In DPWH Bicol: District Engineers under crackdown!
By MANUEL T. UGALDE
IN Legazpi City, a pressing issue has come to light within the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Bicol. While controversies often revolve around the common practice of kickbacks and established procedures, a new and significant concern has emerged: the widespread cheating among district engineers regarding their attendance at the office.
Reportedly, district engineers are found to be frequently absent from their offices, purportedly under the guise of official business or travel orders, while attending to personal matters. This absenteeism extends to failure in completing the mandatory five-day work week from 8 AM to 5 PM, as required by labor and Civil Service Laws. Moreover, these engineers have been found arriving late at the office, bypassing the essential biometric machines used for employee check-in and check-out, a direct violation of office attendance regulations.
The Bicol Mail highlighted the admonition issued by the Bicol DPWH regional director, Virgilio Eduarte, directed at 16 district engineers. Media reports revealed their habitual absence or tardiness, including instances of an engineer attending a festival in another province without official leave, yet somehow having a complete attendance record in the office, despite bypassing the mandatory biometric recording.
Responding to these revelations, members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines from Camarines Sur and Albay expressed their concerns. They emphasized that any official travel by district engineers should require explicit approval from the regional director or their authorized representative. Failure to obtain such approval renders submitted proof of travel orders invalid, a discrepancy easily detectable by investigative bodies like the Office of the Ombudsman or Civil Service Commission.
Former DPWH officials, such as lawyers Felix Brazil and Oliver Rodulfo, have strongly condemned the behavior of absentee district engineers. They called for investigations by the Ombudsman and CSC, underlining that district engineers should exemplify the work ethic expected in their respective districts.
Moreover, revelations from a former DPWH official revealed how taxpayers’ money was squandered due to manipulated attendance records. These practices were not merely a breach of regulations but amounted to a criminal exploitation of office time and resources.
In response to these concerns, the Bicol DPWH director has taken steps to monitor district engineers’ attendance closely through web conferences. He emphasizes that these engineers must act as models in their districts or face the consequences for their dishonest practices.
Director Eduarte, originally from another Visayan region, expressed his discomfort over the frequent reports tagging DPWH Bicol as one of the most corrupt entities, as labeled by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
The issues surrounding the attendance cheating among district engineers in the Bicol DPWH reveal a systemic problem that requires urgent investigation and rectification.
According to a source, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) operated differently during the old Marcos administration. During that time, the appointment of district engineers did not require clearance from lawmakers, and the allocation of pork barrel funds was restricted to administration-identified congressmen in small amounts.
Recently, former President Rodrigo Duterte strongly criticized the Congress, referring to it as a corrupt institution. Additionally, over a month ago, a prominent Hong Kong-based newspaper, BizNewsAsia, featured a headline story highlighting the Philippines’ Congress and Senate as the largest criminal syndicate.