Wicked Winks: “The road to perdition”

When Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) started the road-widening project under former Pres. B.S. Aquino’s administration, the electric poles owned by Electric Cooperatives (EC) situated in the sides of the street are now suddenly found in the middle of the road. This ridiculous implementation of a supposedly beneficial project continues to this administration even after the July 10, 2017 Dept. of Energy (DOE)-DPWH Joint Circular (JC) on the relocation of Electric Poles. DPWH openly admits that they did not and will not relocate the poles because it is not their job, and points their finger to the Electric Cooperatives (EC) which own the power lines and have the sole responsibility for relocating them under this Joint Circular agreement. The National Electrification Administration (NEA)—an attached agency under DOE, which has supervision and control over the ECs, is tasked to submit to the DPWH a duly certified proposed program of work with cost estimate and bill of materials prepared by ECs affected in the road widening project. Without this, NEA will never know the scale of work to be done; hence, reimbursement for the relocation cannot be released by DPWH. Among the four (4) electric cooperatives in this part of the province, the most affected are the area coverages of Casureco II (in Naga City) and Casureco III (in Iriga City). They have the most number of electric poles left in the middle of the road by DPWH. These two are NEA take-over ECs—meaning, NEA appointed Project Supervisor/Acting GM and interim members of the board cloak with extra ordinary powers of control and supervision run them instead of a regular GM and elected members of the Board. These NEA appointed and assigned managers and directors have different priorities. They are so engrossed with and focused on achieving a “higher classification rating” (EC’s categorization with “AAA” as highest and “C“ the lowest based on NEA’s muddled design rating scheme)—all to please their bosses. Relocating electric poles in the middle of the road is evidently not one of them. Congressman Gabby Bordado of the Third District of Cam. Sur earlier last year made a strong representation and protestation in both head and district offices of DPWH in Manila and Canaman for their prompt action in relocating these electric poles, which pose considerable hazard to all passing motor vehicles. “Many lives are at stake and maybe lost if this flawed project is not corrected soon. This impels me to voice with strongest outcry to the powers that be in DPWH to do something about it, or else I will hold them accountable for any accident caused by these obstructing poles in the middle of the road”, Bordado said when queried then on what he will do to help fix this problem. Sure enough, a week after his outburst, the Joint Circular of the DOE-DPWH came into fruition. For all that, the ball is on the court of the EC’s now, specifically Casureco II & III. They have not done any significant efforts on their part other than to submit partial requirements in the funding of relocation of these poles. For sure, release of funds from DPWH to start the process will also be miniscule and staggered—what is submitted is what they will get, wasting away precious time to avert potential and fatal accidents to happen. If these “expert” NEA officials from Manila assigned in these two affected ECs would only step outside their offices, perhaps they would bear the brunt of the riding public— the absurdity of these poles left standing in the middle of the road is just too much to take (It only shows the idiocy of the people behind this corruption-laden project—the epitome of alchemist creativity at work, indeed!). But they prefer to stay inside their air-conditioned offices entertaining suppliers instead. What we expect them to do, since they are all from NEA—the office that evaluates and approves the program of work in the first place—is to use their unprecedented connection and clout to facilitate and push the application for funding, and not to sit on it and wait until all other ECs scattered throughout Luzon affected by the same road-widening project beat them to the draw for the limited funds still available in the DPWH budget. However, if they don’t comply in the submission of the whole prescribed program of work in their coverage area, nothing will really happen and everyday we are faced with this “road to perdition!”