THE development of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) into its present structure underwent a long process of evolution spanning a century of colorful and significant events in laying the groundwork for the physical foundation of the country.
The Department is considered as old as the Philippine government, its existence dates back to about four centuries at the time of the Spanish colonial era. It emerged from its embryonic form in 1565, when the first settlement roads were constructed by forced labor. Fortresses then were connected by improved trails as supply lines and means of communications. As Spain was in its expansion program in the islands, it resorted to a policy of attraction by way of public works construction. In order to pursue their objective, the King of Spain designated the Spanish Governor General in the country as Chief of Public Works assisted by Junta Consultiva through a Royal Decree in 1867.
It was in 1868 when the Bureau of Public Works and Highways (Obras Publicas) and the Bureau of Communications and Transportation (Communicationes y Meteologia) were organized under a civil engineer known as “Director General.”
Since then, the department has undergone various stages of development and evolution that largely depended on the change in government, shift of administration policies, and reorganization in its structure and responsibilities to suit the demands of times.
Finally, after a long process of evolution by virtue of Executive Order No. 124, dated January 30, 1987, the agency is now known as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with five bureaus, six services,16 regional offices, 24 project management offices, 16 regional equipment services, and 118 district engineering offices.