Press Release
September 27, 2023

Manifestation of Senator Risa Hontiveros after the Senate's approval of the bicameral report on the proposed PPP Act

Salamat kaayo, Mr. President. I would like to explain my "yes" vote to this bicameral version of the PPP Act.

Tingin ko mababawasan ang uutangin ng Pilipinas, at maiiwasan ang madayang PPP contracts kapag pinatupad na natin itong ating bagong PPP Law.

Hindi ako anti-private. Pwedeng maging mahalaga ang papel ng private sector; at itong pag-pirmi at pag-kumpleto ng mga batas para sa PPP at joint ventures ay paraan para gamitin ang yaman at husay ng sektor ng negosyo -- para sa mga serbisyo na karaniwan nang inaasahan natin mula sa gubyerno. Sa Ingles, ito po yung "achieving public ends thru private means."

The PPP modality of developing and financing public programs and infrastructure took a back seat during the Duterte Administration, which relied a lot on foreign borrowings to finance the Build Build Build program.

P6 trillion ang dumagdag sa utang at siguro hindi kulang sa kalahati nyan ay dahil sa Build Build Build projects na ODA-funded. We will continue to experience the consequences of that Build Build Build borrowing spree, because infrastructure loans contracted back then will only be called on and disbursed in the coming years.

Former Finance Secretary Dominguez had his reasons for not liking PPP projects. The deals took years to clinch, the proponents asked for guarantees and tax subsidies . . and for political reasons he preferred that Chinese loans should fund even those projects, such as Bicol Express and the Kaliwa Dam that were already set to be funded by the private sector. Then President Duterte also unilaterally altered PPP deals - for example in water, in the aftermath of the 2019 water crisis in Metro Manila.

It is an understatement to say that there was a chilling effect on business -- those years were the winter of public-private partnerships in the Philippines and it was the spring for many largescale debt deals with ADB and JICA.

There are indeed many reasons for being cautious about harnessing the private sector and then allowing them to draw subsidies from government, to collect tolls and fees, and to operate and profit from developing properties and services around high capacity transit ports.

But I would say that the behavior of PPP partners will only be as good, or as bad, as the behavior of our PPP decision-makers.

In turn, the achievement of public ends will depend on the solidity of our PPP and joint venture rules. It takes two to tango, as they say. And here, we are firming up some compulsory dance steps so that the dance will not be troublesome, and contentious, with one side taking advantage of the vulnerability of the other.

I think this PPP law is far from perfect, but it introduces predictability in the procedures and strengthens the accountability of our officials and staff in implementing agencies and oversight agencies.

So salamat po to our Sponsor, Senator JV for seeing this through. Salamat kaayo, Mr. President.

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