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DPWH owes APEC millions for poles relocation

By Manuel T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY --- Thousands of electric poles remain a stumbling block in the road widening and clearing operation in Albay due to failure of the Department of Public Works and Highways to settle its payables for the manufacturing of the poles and relocation cost.

With more than 50 percent of national roads widened to four lanes since the road widening began six years ago, electric poles have been considered as a major blockade in roads that causes vehicular accidents.

An estimated 2,000 electric poles affecting the Albay roadways were subject for relocation according to then Albay Power and Energy Corp. General Manager Apolinario Alvarez, during an interview sometime in 2021.

APEC management and operation control have been terminated as of November 21, last year after 8 long years of failed rehabilitation of the Albay Electric Cooperative, which the National Electrification Administration privatized in 2013.

The termination of APEC concession supposedly for 25 years contract was a result of the special general assembly of ALECO consumers conducted on September 3 that rejected APEC continuance of ALECO operation. ALECO management has been placed under NEA control as of November 20 last year.

A public works official disclosed that an old law has mandated the DPWH to provide or shoulder the funds for the assembly and relocation of electric poles affecting the roadway in case of road widening. The said law pertains to power cooperative operation, according to the source, adding the DPWH continue providing funds for it.

In the case of Albay, the cost for electric poles relocation including its manufacturing runs to millions of pesos already, the source added. Without funds from the DPWH, the power supplier concern would not mind relocating the poles as what is going on, the source said.

For its part, Albay 1ST District Engineer Rainero Zerda said his office had already issued payment of P850,000 for APEC poles relocation sometime in 2021. He said under process at the central office for APEC was a total of P12.3 million involving some 300 poles in the first district alone.

It was not clear how much payables for the poles relocation from the Albay 2nd and 3rd district engineering offices.

Motorists have been complaining about the stopple road clearing operation in Albay, with poles, trees, and structures remain in roads despite the successful road clearing started by the Duterte administration. Motorists noted that after the Duterte administration, however, the DPWH and Local Government Units tasked to remove all roads obstruction has turned paralyzed.

One motorist cited a pole posted right at the middle of the outer lane of the widened diversion road in Sto. Domingo town, a site described very much critical, especially during the night travel.

The Philippine National Police Albay provincial command had met with the three Albay district engineers regarding its plan to embark on road clearing operation to reduce road accidents pursuant to the old program implemented by the DILG during the past administration.

But a source from the PNP said that the success of the road clearing operation is basically dependent on the sincerity of the DPWH and LGUs specifically on the removal of trees and structures, adding that they have the funds if they want to.

According to Engr. Cesar Sanorjo, assistant district engineer of the Albay 1st District, the removal of trees and structures in roads such as waiting sheds have been in the priority lists of their office, citing the dismantling of the four boundary markers in the towns of Sto. Domingo–Legazpi, Malilipot and Tiwi.


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