/ 7 March 2022

SENATOR Joel Villanueva on Sunday urged the government to ensure that the 45-day public works ban that will take effect on March 25 will not affect jobs or delay the completion of infrastructure projects in calamity areas.

“Employment should not be a casualty of election. And pandemic recovery should not take a back seat to polls,” Villanueva said.

“We have 10.1 million unemployed and underemployed. Let us not worsen this already bleak jobs picture,” he added.

Villanueva noted that the number of workers in construction dipped to 4 million when pandemic lockdowns stopped work on public and private projects.

Halting construction of schools and hospitals “during summer when it is the best time to build before the rains come” will set back their completion, he added.

“We should also take advantage of the ‘good weather window’ to fix farm infrastructure like roads and irrigation,” he said.

Funding for P1.1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects have been authorized in the 2022 national budget.

“If we press the ‘pause’ button, lalong atrasado na tayo,” he warned.

Villanueva said that election laws grant a wide leeway in allowing exemptions to the public works ban.

Among projects exempted are those ongoing or awarded before March 25, as well as emergency work necessitated by the occurrence of a public calamity.