Is change finally coming at DPWH?


By Manly M. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY --- It seems that new policies intended to speed up the implementation of projects will soon be observed in the Department of Public Works and Highways with the expected approval of theer the 2019 General Appropriation Act.

Newly-appointed Bicol DPWH Regional Director Virgilio C. Eduarte disclosed that the 2019 General approrpaitions Bill may soon be passed by the Bicameral Committee that contains a provision where every infrastructure project awarded should be completed within 18 months, else no full payment should be made to the contractor.

Eduarte explained that the said provision once enforced will be vital in addressing problems on road obstructions delaying projects, and other nagging issues such as sub-contracting and slippages in project implemenetations.

He said that in case of slippages and other delays, the project affected would be stopped, and be paid only according to the actual percentage accomplishment, with corresponding penalties, where it is provided.

Eduarte admitted that during the 2019 GAA deliberations, it was originally proposed that implementation period for all government projects and contracts should be no more than 12 months, regardless of project cost, but the committee finally decided that all projects should be completed within the 18-month maximum period.

Asked if he was aware that the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption has tagged Bicol DPWH as the most corrupt agency hereabouts and that the existence of scandalous “insider-contractors” within the office persists, the regional director said that the DPWH is focusing its attention on the issues mentioned.

He warned against shenanigans in the regional office for as long as he is the chief of the office.

The former VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez has since been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as chairman of the resurrected Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission which has spearheaded investigation of reported scandals rocking the DPWH regional office, including the aborted P17B Mayon Circumferential Road project.

Eduarte was also warned against the crowding luxury sedans and sports utility vehicles inside the DPWH regional office compound. Incidentally, these expensive vehicles, according to observers, belong not only to top officials of the agency, but also to ordinary employees, including enterprising job order personnel, that local newsmen said “smell fishy.”