LEGAZPI CITY: Public Works and Highways Region 5 Director Danilo Dequito, plucked out from his Tacloban assignment, for posting here asked the local media’s help in exposing corruption in the regional Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the citizens to monitor the whooping P9.6-billion infrastructure project for 2013.
Dequito, head of the regional office since 2010, had avoided media in his first two months because it was not his priority.
But in his interview lately, Dequito admitted needing a vigilant media and a straight construction industry to “dismantle the greed creeping in the award of contracts through rigged biddings and implementation, resulting in substandard projects.
He said a barangay chairwoman, Cherry Mayor of Daraga, Albay complained that a P1-million dike project was hastily implemented by the DPWH regional maintenance office, which after two months collapsed in an ordinary downpour as it lacked the required 30 percent boulders stated in the program specifications.
Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of Albay third district, earlier criticized Dequito for alleged wanton violation of the Procurement Reform Act involving the hasty disbursement of the P374-million Albay calamity funds released by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in December 2011.
Gonzales, in his strongly worded letter to Dequito dated December 23, 2011, protested the negotiated bidding for the P374-million funds to a “few favored contractors” of 64 “juicy flood control projects that were clustered in 16 contracts despite the absence of emergency justification as the calamity period had already long lapsed.”
Notwithstanding the congressman’s protest, the regional office, backed by contractors, went ahead with the negotiated bidding and awarded the contracts allegedly to mere dummies.
The controversy over the negotiated bid surfaced after reports stating that P100 million was being raised for a “Malacañang-based cabinet official.”
Gonzalez said the President’s “tuwid na daan” campaign was grossly violated in the P374-million funds, which is why the President himself ordered its investigation.
Recently, retired DPWH Bicol public affairs chief Romeo Esplana confirmed that corruption scandals persist under the present administration involving among others the P684-million circumferential road project in Catanduanes in 2011; the P100- million dredging contract of Yawa river right at the door steps of the DPWH regional office which was kept from the public; the common complaints of rigged bidding and the disposal of over P100 million operational “chopped-chopped” equipment which are being kept as evidences in Masbate in relation to the plunder charges before the Ombudsman last year against 42 DPWH officials and employees.