• It ain’t broke, why is Alvarez planning to fix it?


    THE saying comes from American discourse about government–not about appliances. The Phrase Finder website says,—under the article titled “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”—it means, “If something is working adequately well, leave it alone.” There’s a happy little essay about Stone Age implements which segues to this discussion: “The thought may be Stone Age but the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, which sounds as though it might come from the Roosevelt or Truman era, is more recent than that. This one is widely attributed to T. Bert (Thomas Bertram) Lance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Jimmy Carter’s 1977 administration. He was quoted in the newsletter of the US Chamber of Commerce, Nation’s Business, May 1977.”

    Apparently, Bert Lance thought he could save the US government billions if he could get it to adopt the simple motto: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And he said that the trouble with government “Fixing things that aren’t broken and not fixing things that are broken.”

    And this seems to be what Congressman-elect Pantaleon Alvarez (Davao del Norte), who will soon become the Speaker of the House of Representatives because he is soon-to-be-President Rody Duterte’s choice, plans to do with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

    He will, he said in a TV interview, push for the removal of the work of building roads, bridges and highways from the Department of Public Works and Highways and transfer it to the Department of Transportation and Communications which has ceased to be that but is only the “Department of Transportation” because Communications has ceased to be under it since the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) was recently created.

    He said, “Highway construction should properly belong to the transportation department because transportation and roads are related. Anyway, public works is already very large.”

    But the DOT/DOTC still has the problem of fixing the very serious LRT and MRT problems. The LRT extension to Cavite has not actually begun but already half a billion pesos has been spent on it. How can the future Speaker even think of adding to its functions that of building the nation’s road, bridges and highways? Doesn’t he realize that the transportation functions of DOTC are vast and faced with so many problems and that adding the construction of roads, highways and bridges to it would result in more disasters?

    Is this move a power play against Rep. Mark Villar, the very talented young man and achiever, whom President-elect Duterte has named to be the DPWH secretary?

    We hope Speaker-to-be Alvarez reconsiders and let Congressman Villar be the secretary of the complete DPWH and apply his talents, which he amply demonstrated as a private sector executive, in that job.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. As the title of the Department speaks for itself… The Department of Public Works and Highways sees to it that all works on the Highways are working…. street lamps, obstructions, roundabouts, etc…. and of course the Highways itself where all Land transportation uses….they upkeep it, makes new ones, so that everybody using it would be comfortable and safe…. on the other hand… Department of Transportation sees to it that every riding public reaches their destination from point A to point B….they maintain/ upkeep Government/Semi government mode of transport used by the public to commute such as LRT, MRT..etc… so… to sum it up…. our Highways…. specially EDSA, C 5, and the rest of the C’s are or should be undertaken by the DPWH….

    2. Alvarez is the personification of the adage: “A little learning is a dangerous thing”!!

    3. I beg to disagree with this editorial. The suggested move to put highway-related activities and function under Department of Transportation actually reasonable and logical because of transport-related issues and solutions should be looked holistically rather piecemeal, especially now that we are doing/planning major projects where several mode of transportation are linked together (eg. train–>airport, expressway–>connector road–> airport / train station) etc. If you look at state transportation agencies in the US (eg. California State Transportation Agency), all modes of transportation office/entities are under one roof, including aviation, driver’s license regulation (DMV) and traffic safety. Management, implementation and monitoring of all transport-related infrastructure would be stream-lined.

    4. DoTC, DICT, whoever, will call the shots, the commuting and driving public want an immediate stop to the practice of wrecking roads and bridges just to let the work stand idle for an eternity. The Katipunan Extension bridge project connecting Q.C, Balara to Marikina Loyola Grand Villas is a good example. After demolishing half of the short span bridge, just this last May, for no good reason they left a gaping hole, afterwards a month later there is no further work being done to finish it. Said tiny bridge is not even several meters long, yet the contractor refuses to finish the job, which has caused kilometer long lines of suffering commuters and vehicular gridlock. To compound the problem the ones minding the traffic tambays in slippers, who cause more chaos by allowing the outgoing lane to accumulate one kilometer long, while the opposite lane has only a few dozen vehicles incoming.

      Why they also demolished concrete railing on either side of the bridge? When this can result in vehicles falling into the creek especially at night, or during rain, causing accidents and deaths. Please include emergency powers specifically to compel such contractors to fast track, non-stop priority road/works, to completion. The death penalty may also be imposed on said contractors if their criminal negligent delays result in deaths resulting from their haphazard delayed projects.

    5. if we follow the catch phrase “if ain’t broke, don’t fix if”, the advancement and progress as result of improving (not changing) the present, we will not be enjoying the convenience and benefits of those improvements. We will still be using lamps and candle lights for light and our feet to travel and reach other countries.

      the catch phrase is for those who are afraid to face change(s) in life for the better. the only thing sure if life is change, which is constant day by day… it is better to adapt to change and improve the situation as the change dictates.

    6. Nice Analysis. Alvarez is Totally Ridiculous on this one. With so many problems-he picks on irrelevant issues