IN his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28 last year, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd proudly proclaimed the amazing accomplishments of his favorite Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH). In particular, he cited the more than 12,000 kilometers (kms) of roads that the DPWH had constructed in the four years since 2010.
Well, it seems that the pathetic President B.S. Aquino 3rd will gladly repeat whatever the DPWH says in its usual dubious reports. Apparently, he simply has no inkling of what he was talking about in his 2014 SONA. For one, the incredulous total length of 12,184 kms of roads is even longer than the distance between Manila and Los Angeles, California in America at 11,760 kms.
PNoy does not have the slightest idea that the total length of national roads built and claimed by the DPWH is even actually longer than the length of the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to the United States at 6,346 nautical miles. If President Aquino would bother to look at the world map, then he would realize that the DPWH has made a complete fool of him with the humongous Pacific Ocean to show it.
Secretary Singson tried to clarify the figure, saying that it referred to the total length of 12,184 kms of national roads built over the past four years. The construction work includes roads that the DPWH had demolished (even in good condition) and concreted again – REBLOCKING, the double asphalt-overlay on paved highways (that are still in good condition) and the widening of national roads for additional lanes (that are not needed and cannot be used.)
However, even if the DPWH claims that the total length of national roads that have undergone reblocking has reached 7,000 kms, there are still some 5,000 kms of roads to account for that which DPWH allegedly built. Again, PNoy has no notion that 5,000 kms is the distance between the West Coast and the East in the United States (3,000 miles), which would take one week of continuous driving!
Even with air travel, the distance of 5,000 kms between the East Coast and the West Coast would take around six hours. Yet six hours is the travel time flying from Manila to Davao City and back (round trip) TWICE! So can we believe that the DWPH has constructed 5,000 kms of new national highways like the ones crossing continental America? I doubt it!
Dubious savings of DPWH
As always, President Aquino commended DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson in his 2014 SONA for the sterling performance that resulted in total savings of an astounding P28 billion in the past four years (2010-2014). The Chief Executive cited the streamlining of the bidding process, with the elimination of the “letter of intent” that supposedly resulted in connivance. As PNoy said: Nabawasan ang mga pagkakataon para sa kontsabahan.
However, President B. S. Aquino 3rd has this “nice” habit of not giving any details on how the alleged savings of DPWH were attained. What is even worse is the discrepancy between the figures released by the DPWH in its official mid-term report and what is proclaimed by the President each year.
The DPWH claimed during its 117th anniversary on June 22, 2015 that it has saved more than P48.5 billion in the last four-and-a-half years through “full transparency.” This was reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 23 by Mr. Jerry Esplanada, with the headline occupying the top of the entire page.
Yet, the same Inquirer reporter on May 25 of this year reported: “DPWH saves P39B, cites ‘full transparency’” for the same period. It is amazing how the savings of DPWH could increase by almost P10.0 billion from P39.0 billion to P48.5 billion in the same period in a matter of one month from May 25 to June 22, 2015.
My column “No End to DPWH Corruption” early last month (MT, June 3, 2015) mentioned the latest claim of DPWH of P39.0 billion in total savings in 4.5 years from July 2010 to December 2014. I wrote that, “by the end of the term of President B.S. Aquino 3rd 12 months from now, it is not far-fetched that the DPWH will claim that they have realized total savings of P50.0 billion.” Well, they did it in just one month!
From May to June 2015, DPWH’s savings rose by P9.5 billion from P39.0 billion to P48.5 billion! Just like that! But how can Secretary Singson do it when the average annual alleged savings of DPWH stand at “only” P8.7 billion per year or P725 million per month? Now, with a magic wand, the DPWH savings become P9.5 billion in ONE MONTH! This is what happens when figures on savings are flagrantly fabricated.
Let us analyze the notorious claims of DPWH with its savings and show the brazen temerity of the nefarious government agency and the favorite secretary of President Aquino. For the first three years (2010-2013), the total savings of DPWH reached P16.5 billion, or annual savings of P5.5 billion per year. Then in 2014, the total savings for four years amounted to P28.0 billion or P7.0 billion per annum, reflecting a 45.45 percent increase. Wow!
President B.S. Aquino 3rd proudly proclaimed the total savings of P48.5 billion realized by the DPWH in 4.5 years, during its 117th anniversary last week (June 22) through ‘full transparency in its operations.” That means an increase of P20.5 billion in savings in just one year or a 73.21 percent increase in savings, compared with total savings of P28.0 billion in 2014. Super-wow!
However, all these are only paper-savings based on the DPWH Approved Budget of Contract (ABC). These savings are not realized with their project implementation, but just based on the public biddings by the DPWH.
The DPWH has been fooling the Filipino people and President Aquino not only with their nefarious projects, but with the inconsistent figures of the department’s alleged savings. They have been shamelessly doing it in the past years. InfraWatch has been monitoring the DPWH press releases, as reported dutifully in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the Annual SONAs of PNoy.
In June 24, 2013, the Inquirer published a report on the P16.35 billion savings of the DPWH based on its mid-term performance report. It cited “institutionalized accountability” as one of its major accomplishments. But in his SONA on July 22, 2013, President Aquino spoke proudly of an P18.4 billion savings by the DPWH!
How the DPWH managed to save P2.0 billion in three weeks can qualify for Ripley’s Believe or Not!
Truly, there is no end to the lies and corruption at the DPWH. It is bad enough that hundreds of billions of pesos of public funds – the money of the people – are wasted and stolen in public works projects. What is even worse is that the DPWH can casually come up with figures on savings from thin air.
However, the worst is that the Philippines, unfortunately, has an idiotic President who believes all of them.
Rick B. Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org