Last Monday night, I drove from Tagaytay in Cavite down to Manila via the
Aguinaldo Highway. My wife and I were to meet our good friend and fellow Times columnist, former Senator Rene A. V. Saguisag, for dinner in Pasay at the world-class Solaire casino-hotel located at the Pagcor Entertainment City near the SM Mall of Asia.
The Aguinaldo Highway is a well-paved four-lane national road. But what we immediately noticed during our evening drive from Tagaytay to Bacoor in Cavite was the darkness along the province’s most used national highway. At least 70 per cent of the 40 kms we passed on Aguinaldo Highway was not properly lighted!
What is interesting to observe are the different types of lighting done by the DPWH
and the local government units (LGUS). There is the impressive new highway LED lighting in Tagaytay for about 1km from the rotunda landmark. Then it is followed by some intermittent lighting in Tagaytay, Silang, Dasmariñas, Imus and Bacoor.
Surprisingly, the entire stretch of the 4-km Bypass Road in Silang is pitch black at night without any lighting from the DPWH! This section of the Aguinaldo Highway was built more than 30 years ago in the early 1980s and yet there is no lighting in that area until today. What a miserable and pathetic sight!
Our experience along the dark and desolate Aguinaldo Highway made me recall of the notorious lighting project of the DPWH along the Alabang-Zapote Road in Muntinlupa. This is in the vicinity of the Alabang Town Center and the Madrigal Business Park. The DPWH Road Board has approved and is funding the construction of 125 new lampposts with LED lamps just beside the existing lighting installed only four years ago.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported on December 15, 2013 the controversial P15-million lighting project under the title “Overkill: New Munti streetlights questioned.” The DPWH anomaly was exposed by InfraWatch (Citizens’ Infrastructure Integrity WatchDog). Disclosure: I am the Executive Director of InfraWatch.
Other than the fact that the lighting project is obviously not needed at all, there are
still other issues related to the unbridled corruption at DPWH. One is distance between the concrete posts. Instead of the correct 30-40 meters distance, what was constructed was between 15 to 20 meters. This was ostensibly to increase the number of posts and LED lamps and consequently the project cost also increased.
There is the big issue on the actual number of lamp-posts and LED lamps to be installed. The work permit issued in February 2013 to the DPWH contractor, H-Tri Development Corporation, was for the installation of 125 units of 140-watt LED lamps.
However, when InfraWatch made the actual count of the base of the lampposts, there were only 80 concrete posts, or 45 units LESS than the 125 required in the DPWH contract.
After the publication of the Inquirer story in mid-December 2013, the DPWH contractor started to demolish the concrete posts in late January this year. We thought that the DPWH Road Board would discontinue the anomalous lighting project. But upon further inquiry and scrutiny, InfraWatch learned the demolition just rationalized the distance between the posts. Hence, there will be now Less Than Half of the 125 new lampposts!
The question that begs to be answered is about the competence and the integrity of the Road Board that is chaired by no less than DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.
They will waste public funds to the tune of P15 million with the flagrant double-lighting along the Alabang – Zapote Road in Muntinlupa, but will not install the much-needed lighting along the many dark sections of the 40-km Aguinaldo Highway.
In particular, the sum of P15 million to be wasted on the outrageous DPWH lighting in Alabang would have been sufficient to light the 4-km Bypass Road in Silang, Cavite!
And the Road Board easily has all the funds to properly light the 40-km highway.
The corruption at the DPWH Road Board has obviously continued in the past three years, eight months and three weeks under the Aquino Administration. This in spite of the brazen claim of Daang Matuwid (Straight Path!) — and all the hypocrisy attending it.
I completely concur with the position of Senator Aquilino “ Koko” Pimentel III who since Nov. 2012 has been calltng for the abolition of the DPWH Road Board.
Earlier during the last years of the Arroyo administration, it was Senator Miriam Defensor- Santiago who exposed some P20 billion being missing at the DWPH Road Board. The Aquino presidency has not addressed the issues related to the Road Board until today.
The corrupt Road Board was created with the passage of Republic Act 8794 in June
2000 that created the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC). Payments from owners
of motor vehicles upon registration are supposed to take care of road maintenance and the
installation of adequate and efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, among others.
However, this has not happened for two obvious reasons: corruption and incompetence.–