May 18, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong formally filed a complaint against eight officials of the Baguio City District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (BCDEO-DPWH) and a private contractor for alleged violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The affidavit-complaint was received by the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City on July 5.

Named respondents were BCDEO District Engineer Rene F. Zarate; Assistant District Engineer Glenn V. Reyes; and Engineers Cesario L. Rillera, Gil L. Nuque, and Nora R. delos Santos, Alfredo O. Bannagao Jr.; Project Engineer Tedler Depaynos and Administrative Officer V Maria Luisa V. Batac; and Wilfredo E. Gopeng of W.E.G. Construction.

The complaint stemmed from a DPWH-funded project worth P10.4 million for an off-carriageway improvement of a tertiary road along A. Bonifacio Road with contract duration of 120 calendar days.

The project was awarded to W.E.G. Construction through public bidding with the contract dated Sept. 16, 2021.

In his complaint, Magalong alleged the project was disadvantageous to the government and constitutes corrupt practices due to the contractor’s failure to remedy the defects, deficiencies, and recommendations of project engineer Loida Taynec and Chief Construction Section Alfredo Bannagao, Jr. May 16.

Another inspection at the project site was conducted by City Engineering Office Maintenance Division Engineering Assistant Rodel Lagare upon the complaint of Raey Leal, a concerned citizen.

Magalong said a confirmatory inspection was conducted by City Engineer Edgar Victorio Olpindo and City Buildings and Architecture Officer Johnny Degay on June 7 and discovered the materials used in the project are substandard and defective resulting to poor construction.

In an interview aired on PTV Cordillera on June 8, Zarate said the project is not substandard but only defective as to some parts.

On June 9, the DPWH-BCDEO furnished the contractor a notice of defects/deficiencies with a directive to commence the repair works within seven days and to complete the works within 30 days.

The DPWH-BCDEO listed five defects: insufficient concrete paving blocks on directional and warning tactile in all PWD ramps per the approved plan; cement floor finish tenting “kapak” or hallow sound heard when tile adhesive and cement were poorly applied; unfinished driveway concreting and porac sand was not used on floor finish; transverse cracks at cement floor finish lacking cement mortar; and, spoiled concrete on the cement floor finish.

Despite the notice, Magalong alleged that the DPWH-BCDEO’s action was only an afterthought to the inspection he led with Olpindo and Degay.

“It only shows that the BCDEO officials are not assigning personnel to supervise or oversee the projects being undertaken by their office,” Magalong added.

The mayor said up to the date of filing, the contractor with the tolerance of the BCDEO officials, “purposely failed to undertake corrective measures to address the defects or deficiencies as stated in the May 16 punchlist.

Despite the slippage of more than 30 days from the expiration of the original 120-day period to finish the project, the project is still ongoing without the contract being terminated. Instead, the implementing agency merely subjected the contractor to liquidated damages.”

Magalong hopes the complaint will serve as a test case to spur improvement in the implementation of government infrastructure projects. – Jessa Mardy Samidan