N. Vizcaya townsfolk slam defective projects
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Tuesday, August 21, 2012
BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya—A group of residents here is asking officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to investigate deals involving allegedly defective projects done by the agency, which they blamed for the series of flooding here in recent weeks.
Residents of Barangay Banggot observed defects in a P1-million drainage canal here that was funded through the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla and implemented by the DPWH through CDJ Builders, a private contractor.
DPWH sources said the project was eventually subcontracted to another firm.
“It is revolting and ironic, because if in the past we did not have problems with floods, this drainage canal has been causing flooding in our community since it was built,” said a village leader, who asked not to be named for fear of harassment.
The residents expressed anger over the supposed failure of the DPWH to closely supervise the construction of public infrastructure projects.
On Saturday, the neighborhood again suffered from knee-deep floods as the drainage canal overflowed with run-off water from the hills in nearby Buag village after a two-hour downpour.
Residents said they were worried that flooding in the area will worsen as the typhoon season continues.
Nueva Vizcaya was placed under storm signal No. 2 when Tropical Storm “Helen” hit last week, but the province experienced only light rains.
“The images of residents climbing up their rooftops has been causing trauma to many of us here, especially when it starts to rain,” a resident said.
The project took so long to complete, which led residents to wonder if the contractor was fully equipped to do the job, said the village official.
“We tried to check with the DPWH billboard, which we believed was a good gauge, but the dates of the project’s start and completion are left blank,” he said.
A farmer complained that the contractor did not remove soil and other materials that were dumped on his rice land while the drainage canal was being built.
Reynaldo Tamayo, DPWH regional director, said he will look into the complaint, as well as into reports of irregularities in subcontracting in the DPWH.
Project engineer Rogelio Marata, construction division chief of DPWH’s first engineering district, said the project was built according to plan.
However, when the Inquirer asked for copies of documents on the project, DPWH officials declined.
“Project documents can be released only through a court order,” said engineer Danilo Bernabe, head of the DPWH planning division, relaying the message of district engineer Ronald Reyes.
Bernabe said subcontracting is an accepted practice in the department and terms of such arrangements are considered “internal” between a contractor and a subcontractor.
“We do not have any say as to what they (contractor and subcontractor) agree on, but for as far as we are concerned, we hold the contractor liable [for any defect in the project],” Bernabe said. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon