May 19, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong has again expressed disappointment against the Department of Public Works and Highways-Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) and its head for what he claimed as “persistent substandard projects in the city.”

In his speech during the flag-raising rites at City Hall on June 21, Magalong  called out the alleged “corruption, irregularities, and incompetence” of the DPWH-BCDEO under Engr. Rene Zarate.

He said based on the inspection they conducted last week on projects implemented by the said office, they found out three out of five of which did not meet standards and of the projects the city received for inspection, about 50 percent are being returned to the BCDEO also for not meeting the standards.

“Repeatedly, we have raised this issue to DPWH central office. I cannot imagine na tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang paggawa nila (ng substandard projects), undermining our principle of good governance in the city,” Magalong said.

Still without mincing words, he said the BCDEO also executes projects without consultation with the community or end-users and barangay officials, and when projects are returned to them for fixing, repair works are still sloppy.

“Is that the kind of government officials that we need or we like to have in the city? Punung-puno ng irregularities ang opisina na ‘yan. And they are defying the order of no less than their secretary (Mark Villar), who is now implementing an all out campaign against corruption in his agency. Wala nang ginawa kundi persistently, consistently palpak, and I’m waging war against his team. We can no longer tolerate it. Last week that was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. We can no longer accept it,” Magalong said.

He added he hopes the city council will do something about this “as billions are put to waste because of corruption, irregularities and incompetent officials.”

Asked for comments, Zarate and other key BCDEO officials told the Courier on June 25 the observations of the city mayor are well-taken but explained it is not accurate to say that the projects handled by their office are substandard.

“We take the mayor’s comments constructively. We also do take it personally as we know that we are doing our mandate, performing functions, and we undergo evaluation according to the law,” Zarate said.

They said project engineers are assigned to monitor projects from the time it is commenced up to a period as prescribed by the General Appropriations Act that allows them to determine whether or not contractors complete the projects on time, projects are done according to specifications, or repaired either due to technical defects or sloppy performance by the contractor.

Assistant District Engineer Glen Reyes said poor workmanship does not mean it is substandard.

He said the defects observed by the City Administrator’s Office under Engr. Bonifacio dela Peña are minor but can be repaired, and for which BCDEO issued notices to repair work to concerned contractors at the latter’s expense within the warranty period.

The projects mentioned by the mayor are those involving encroachment within a barangay road with sidewalk that did not meet the 1.5-meter width requirement (T. Alonzo road improvement), excessive asphalt in pavement which is under repair (Laubach Road-Gen. Luna), and multipurpose building at Lourdes Subdivision.

Engineers Cesario Rillera, BCDEO Planning Section chief; and Construction Section Chief Alfredo Bannagao have shown documentary proofs that all the projects they handle, before implementation, are properly coordinated with concerned barangays who in the first place are the ones who identify their priority projects, and with end-users who are involved in the planning, implementation, and inspection of projects. – Hanna C. Lacsamana