July 16, 2024

Some of the government offices concerned with the implementation of projects in the City of Baguio agreed that plans or feasibility studies (FS) have to be first conducted and see to it these are aligned with the city’s development plan.

The opinion is in line with the proposed ordinance of Councilor Mylen Yaranon based on the clamor of the City Planning, Development, and Sustainability Office (CPDSO) to mandate the alignment of project proposals with the city development plans and strategies.

This is pursuant to the mandate for the city council to generate and maximize the use of resources and revenues for the development plans, program objectives, and priorities of the city and to regulate activities relative to the use of land, buildings, and structures within the city.

In the proposed measure, Yaranon identified steps for project proposals and FS to follow to streamline its preparation, checking, and monitoring considering there is a number of ongoing multi-sectoral projects in the city.

This includes coordination in the implementation of projects under the Baguio City District Engineering Office.

She said a project priority list must be prepared by the CPDSO based on the Comprehensive Development Plan and executive-legislative agenda and this should be provided to all local government departments every three years.

Concerned departments must prepare their project proposals according to the priority list, with the assistance of the CPDSO and the feasibility study shall be prepared by Local Finance Committee.

Public consultations shall be conducted throughout the process of project preparation and finalization; project proposals and FS shall be consolidated and checked by the CPDSO; and the City Management Committee shall approve the proposals and feasibility studies.

During the June 3 city council session, Yaranon said it has been their observation that most of the delays encountered in the implementation of city projects involved those that have been issued budgets but which did not have plans, such as barangay projects.

It is the same for city projects, where there are approved budgets but also have no plans and FS.

“We are trying to correct our past system so that once we requested for the budget, it is ready for implementation. What’s happening now is we request the budget and then we make the plans and realize the budget is insufficient so it is not implemented,” the councilor said.

She said the purpose of the proposal for the need for studies and project preparation before it is provided with budget is not to look at what was wrong in the past, but to correct it and further enhance the process so that its implementation would push through.

The DPWH-BCDEO said based on the Local Government Code, coordination of its local project implementation is not necessary but it follows sets of guidelines, and based on recent projects, they have documents to show that big ticket projects such as the youth center at the Athletic Bowl, the Irisan multipurpose hall, the two Wright Park projects, along with two other projects have been coordinated with the city through the offices of the city administrator, mayor, and other concerned offices.

The City Engineering Office (CEO) agrees on the conduct of preparation and FS, but pointed out there are certain projects that should be excluded from the requirement due to the nature of its purpose.

Engr. Richard Lardizabal of the CEO said these are projects implemented using the quick response fund, special trust fund, and for the rehabilitation of existing local roads.

He said the QRF is a standby fund meant for immediate utilization in response to catastrophes, and the STF is composed of local disaster risk reduction and management funds to support DRRM activities and can be used for new or urgent projects.

He said conducting an FS may delay the release of these crucial funds.

For the rehabilitation of existing local roads, he said conducting an FS would consume significant time and incurs additional costs.

Instead, the CEO recommends reinforcing the local road management manual as the primary guideline for the rehabilitation and recovery of local roads and that the conduct of FS should be reserved for new road openings.

Divina Basali of the City Environment and Parks Management Office said the office prepares project proposals and has always been submitting the same to the CPDSO before requesting for funds.

Yaranon cited the Wright Park projects, where funds were requested but the plans and consultations were done months later.

City Buildings and Architecture Office Assistant Head, Engr. Stephen Capuyan, also agreed plans and other documents needed before bidding should be prepared first as early as possible, but he said the office lacks personnel to do all the programs of work and this entails hiring of job orders.

While they agree that no project shall be approved unless there are plans, cost estimates, and feasibility studies, Capuyan appealed that projects that have already been started be approved and allowed completion.

The city council has set another meeting with the concerned city department heads on June 24 for further discussion. – Hanna C. Lacsamana