■ Jane B. Cadalig
The Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) of the Department of Public Works and Highways clapped back at the statement of Mayor Benjamin Magalong about the infrastructure projects that lapsed and resulted in the possible forfeiture of funds allotted by the national government.
In a statement, the BCDEO clarified the allegation the agency was reluctant to release the funds intended for the implementation of projects.
“It is improper to allege that the DPWH is disinclined to release the funds appropriated for the projects. The local government of Baguio is not unaware that the projects mentioned must be implemented within one year as mandated by the (government’s) cash budgeting system. To release funds beyond the allowable period is administratively wrong,” the statement said.
It added the office is simply following the issuances of concerned government agencies on the disbursement of public funds.
The BCDEO added it is lamentable that despite efforts to comply with the standards in project implementation, the mayor has been misled into believing that the projects implemented by the BCDEO are substandard.
This is in relation to the mayor’s statement that the DPWH should examine its system as it is the one that has the propensity to execute substandard projects and pay for them without regard if these will last and will serve the interest of the public.
“The DPWH-BCDEO remains to have a strong and unwavering commitment to provide quality, safe, and environment-friendly public infrastructure facilities for the people of Baguio City,” the statement reads.
The BCDEO issued the statement following an explanation by Magalong that the lapse of DPWH-funded projects is due to the slippage incurred by the contractors, and not because there was corruption involved.
The mayor made the clarification due to insinuations that some projects were not accomplished on time due to corruption.
In some instances, the city government was ordered to return the money to the national coffers, such as the P25 million that was downloaded by the DPWH for the implementation of the Youth Convergence Center at the Athletic Bowl. The project title was not consistent with the one approved for implementation by the DPWH.
Magalong said in the case of the multi-purpose buildings at Wright Park, the city government ordered the termination of the contract and even the blacklisting of the contractorafter lapses were found in the implementation of the project.