THE great American Benjamin Franklin is well known for a quotation about the certainty of death and taxes. Mr. Franklin, whose face is on the $100 dollar bill, wrote to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
In the letter to his French scientist friend in relation to the US Constitution that was approved two years earlier in 1787, the popular former ambassador to France said, “Our new constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency” and then added the famous quotation. The reference to death is due to his failing health due to old age. He died a year later, in 1790.
Other than Death & Taxes, there are two more things certain in life that I tell relatives, friends and acquaintances about. These are the ‘Love of God” and the “Loyalty of a Dog!” Of course, as I will publish in my own original Book of Quotations early next year: “The Only Thing Certain in Life is Change!” (Written in 1985).
In the Philippines, there is something for sure under the Daang Matuwid of the sanctimonious administration of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd. This is the never-ending Corruption at the Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH). In the past five years of the Aquino presidency, there have been unbridled venalities at the DPWH WORSE than in previous administrations.
The real sad part is that the naive and pathetic P-Noy believes the DPWH has actually changed and even gave a P10,000.00 bonus to all its employees two years ago during its anniversary. He has been apparently convinced that the most corrupt national government agency has reformed under the leadership of the “clean” Secretary Rogelio “Babes” Singson.
The latest claim by DPWH is their total saving of P39.0 billion in 4.5 years from July 2010 to December 2014. By the end of the term of President Aquino, 12 months from now, it is not far-fetched that the DPWH would claim that they have realized total savings of P50.0 billion, broken down to dubious savings of P8.3 billion per annum.
However, all these are only paper-savings based on Approved Budgets of Contract (ABC).
The question is, how can all that corruption at the DPWH continue and thrive when both President Aquino and Secretary Singson are supposed to be both honest? Are they also both so super-ignorant of what goes on in that department when Filipinos and foreigners alike can see the flagrant corruption that surrounds the DPWH projects across the country? Or are they super-smart that they can pretend not to know and/or even be part of it and appear as though they know that nothing of that sort is happening?
Insanity at DWPH Baguio
The DPWH is once again doing its shameless projects in Baguio and environs in Itogon, La Trinidad and Tuba in Benguet province. These insane “REBLOCKING” projects, together with drainage components that are not needed, started in March and are still ongoing. During the Holy Week in late March to early April, there were fewer visitors to the summer capital due to the inconvenience of DPWH projects going on as reported by the media.
The District Engineer of Baguio City and the Regional Director of DPWH-CAR (Cordillera Autonomous Region) can compete with their counterparts in Iloilo for the dubious distinction of unbridled corruption. The notorious DPWH projects in Iloilo can be a subject to be written about in another article, and that should include the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) – projects that are truly shameless, with the approval or acquiescence of the DPWH leadership.
Perhaps they can form a club of DPWH District Engineers and Regional Directors with the most Brazen Temerity! Other than Iloilo and Baguio, they only need at least three more members with proven track records of carrying out despicable public-works projects to be able to organize an association and register it with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
For equitable geographic representation, two members must come from Mindanao, like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly from Maguindanao province. Then another member must be from Luzon, such as the Regional Director of Central Luzon (Region III), where the DPWH corruption is at its “best.” A favored Tarlac-based construction company, owned by a friend and political supporter of President Aquino, has cornered multi-billion peso projects over the past five years.
Going back to Baguio, DPWH has torn down good concrete and asphalted roads in major thoroughfares, such as on Rimando Street going up to Aurora Hill, the national roads going down to Tuding in Itogon, Loakan Road and on Naguilan Road and Marcos Highway. The same is true along the Baguio-Bontoc Road in La Trinidad, SHAMELESS is an understatement for the DPWH projects in Baguio and its environs.
Other than the despicable “REBLOCKING” projects, DPWH is undertaking dubious drainage projects, which are completely unnecessary. Why? First, the DPWH is replacing the existing concrete pipes, such as along the Baguio-Bontoc National Road in front of the Benguet State University, where there appears to be no such issue as flooding in the said area in La Trinidad, capital of Benguet province.
Second, DPWH is now installing a new drainage system along major roads in Baguio that are not really necessary, like in Leonard Wood, Outlook Drive beside the Baguio Country Club (BCC) golf course and the Upper General Luna Road. Why are they unnecessary? Because the slope or topography of the said roads would just make rainwater flow down the surface of the roads and NOT on the intended sides of the roads where the new drainage is now being built.
For sure, the DPWH District Office and/or DPWH-CAR did not even undertake a thorough investigation or study of the topography of the area to justify the INSANITY of such projects.
With all the hundreds of millions of pesos spent by the DPWH on Baguio and its environs, which include Tuba, Itogon and La Trinidad over the past five years under the sanctimonious administration of President B.S. Aquino 3rd, it is simply amazing that the DPWH even today cannot carry out complete repair and maintenance work (asphalt overlay or slurry micro-surfacing) along Kennon Road, like in Camps 2 and 3 in the town of Tuba.
Daang Matuwid prefers its expensive and abhorrent ‘REBLOCKING” where good roads are destroyed only to be concreted again, and only with SUBSTANDARD concrete! DPWH does not want to do simple repairs and paving on top because the project costs of such would be much less and so would their commissions also be.
The situation up in the Cordilleras reminds me of C-5 (Carlos P. Garcia Ave.) that even today has not been maintained with simple asphalt overlay from Taguig to Makati. Yet, some sections have been REBLOCKED and applied with Double Asphalt Overlay of 100 mm (4 inches) when half the thickness would have sufficed there. The asphalt overlay done by DPWH along the Buendia flyover in 2011 was only 50 mm (2 inches) thick.
The situation in C-5 is similar to the ramps along EDSA at the junction of Osmeña Highway beside Magallanes Village, where DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson lives. Even today, the DPWH cannot even finish the asphalt overlay on both ramps. The total length is only about 500 meters and should cost not more than P5.0 million. Mr. Singson resides in Magallanes, which is less than 1.0 km from the said unpaved ramps along EDSA. Amazing!
Rick B. Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org