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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo has called on Malacañang to spare big projects under its centerpiece “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program from the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the current health crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Castelo, vice-chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said the national government must take advantage“of the remaining dry-season window to resume work on BBB projects.

“We have at most May and June to do public works activities before the onset of the rainy season, which will surely slow down again the implementation of our national and local government infrastructure programs,” she said.

Castelo stressed that resuming work on certain BBB projects would provide income to those who lost their jobs due to ECQ.

“It would be a way of restarting the economy, even on a limited scale,” she said.

The lawmaker suggested that the IATF could identify BBB projects that need to be jumpstarted.

“The task force could require contractors to test their workers and other personnel for Covid-19 before resuming construction activities and compel them to observe social distancing and other ECQ protocols,” she added.

According to Castelo, contractors not complying with IATF requirements could face suspension of their projects or other penalties.

“With strict conditions, the government should be able to allow limited BBB project activities without endangering the health of all those involved, their families and the community,” she said.

She cited the MRT-7 rail line from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan as one project that could be resumed.

She said before the ECQ, she frequently noticed that workers were spread out along the long stretch of MRT-7 and did not congregate in one work site or station.

Castelo said if limited construction goes well and does not violate ECQ guidelines, it could be expanded to other infrastructure projects, including those funded by local government units (LGUs).

“Like the national government, LGUs have to take advantage of the summer season to undertake public works activities,” she said.

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