BAGUIO CITY — The regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) here, will convene in Bontoc, Mountain Province on Thursday a multi-stakeholder dialog to discuss the various issues and concerns pertaining to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) projects.
OIC-Regional Director Roy Manao, during the ceremonial turn-over of stewardship of DPWH-CAR Monday disclosed to media that the priority of his office is the completion of the SONA projects by the end of 2009 or by first quarter of 2010. “Complete all the SONA as scheduled,” he retorted lightly when asked his first order of the day.
Upon the assumption as the OIC-Regional Director early this month, Manao proposed to DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Esperon the creation of Interim Project Management Office (PMO) that will oversee the implementation of the SONA projects. The Secretary approved last January 14 the said proposal which stipulates, among others, the designation of Engr. Alexander Castañeda of the 1st District Engineering Office of Benguet as the SONA project manager.
The PMO as earlier reported will be formed by DPWH engineers and personnel. “All of them will be temporarily be relieved from their regular duties and responsibilities so that they will effectively perform their SONA assignments,” said Manao on the PMO staff.
Manao revealed in a brief interview with this writer Thursday, his office would be conducting a dialogue with all concerned sectors so that all issues and concerns regarding the SONA projects would be addressed.
Francis Almora, administrative officer of DPWH-CAR, person in-charge for the preparation of the dialogue informed this writer the activity is aimed at resolving issues raised over the implementation of the said projects. He emphasized on the participation of the various stakeholders that includes the owners/claimants of road-right-of-way affected lots, LGUs, contractors, concerned non-government organizations and civil society organizations and individuals.
According to Manao, the conduct of a dialog with all concerned is among their strategies in ensuring the smooth implementation of the project.
Rigged bidding and sub-standard works
On the alleged rigged bidding of SONA projects in CAR, Manao denied any knowledge of any bid-rigging. He claimed that his assignment as Assistant Regional Director (ARD) prior to his designation as OIC-RD was more on the road maintenance in which case had no direct link to the SONA.
The 5.2 billion SONA project of the government has been perceived to have anomalous deals. It was earlier reported in various local papers there were attempts to rig the bidding of the packages scheduled to be implemented this 2009. It was also believed there was splitting of contracts or packages in favor of the contractors of powerful politicians.
Information coming from relevant sources say ranking officials from the regional office of DPWH has provided some favored contractors with program of work even if the bidding was not yet consummated. Such action of a public official is in violation of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees), RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and RA 9184 (Government Procurement Act).
A total of 19 packages were bidded last December 2008. It covers all the four major sections of the SONA – the Halsema Highway that extends up to Banawe Ifugao and the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao Road. The Halsema Highway is subdivided into three sections, two of which is included in the SONA — the Mt. Data-Bontoc and Bontoc-Banawe Road sections. The Bontoc-Tinglayan Boundary and Tinglayan Boundary-Tabuk are the two sections of the Bontoc-Tuguegarao road.
When asked about issues on the sub-standard works provided by the contractors, Manao stated his office has not yet attended on the matter. He explained they are too busy setting up the PMO and its manpower while attending to their regular duties.
Manao also revealed the ongoing post qualification activities for the winning bidders are also taking much of the attention of his engineers at the moment. He explained his office would attend immediately on the alleged sub-standard works once the PMO has been set and the recently bidded 19 packages have been awarded to contractors.
Meanwhile Manao iterated that he would put in a straight line diagram all the road sections and determine the parts with perceived deficiencies. “The contractors in-charge with the sections having deficiencies will be ordered to correct it,” said Manao. # Joseph C. Pangket