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PIA Press Release

DPWH Cordillera top honcho rebuts critics

BAGUIO CITY (15 September) -- The top Honcho at the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has appealed to his critics "not to mislead the general public by sowing intrigues aimed at destroying the image of DPWH and the leadership of CAR".

CAR Regional Director Mariano R. Alquiza cited the "continued carping of certain elements in CAR, particularly of a losing bidder, against alleged rigged bidding, substandard work, etc. in several ongoing public works projects here. I am very transparent in whatever I do and we never hide anything here in CAR. Atty. Oliver T. Rodulfo, Head, Internal Affairs Office has also recently confirmed by that no anomaly is being done in the bidding process as a result of the investigation.

"These self-appointed critics have been at it for quite sometime now, engaged as they are more muckraking rather than airing legitimate issues," Alquiza said. "If there really are defects in any existing infrastructure work here in CAR, I always see to it that these are promptly acted upon. I certainly do not condone unprofessional or substandard work of any kind in my area of responsibility."

Reports have it that Alquiza has terminated the services of one contractor for being delayed in the implementation of some public works projects where his services were contracted out. Said contractor has been blacklisted in one province and in the Cordillera.

Alquiza cited his order to the contractors doing the Halsema Highway in CAR to follow specifications in their construction materials and methods used in compliance with the reported initial finding of the DPWH Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) that some contractors failed in their "compressive test", however, passed in some test like the determination of thickness.

To make the finding definitive, Alquiza has requested the Material Quality Control Division of the DPWH to conduct a second coring test to revalidated the alleged finding. If the initial finding can be definitively established, "I will order the contractor to remove and replace the questioned portion of Halsema Highway at the contractor's cost."

It will be recalled that the Halsema Highway forms part of the North Luzon Agri-Business Quadrangle, which is one of the four major Super Regions that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has created in light of her 2006 State of the Nation Address. Most of the infra works in North Luzon Super Region can be found in CAR. These are expected to be finished in 2009, by which time the economic growth - as well as a boost in tourism - in the Cordillera Region is expected to speed up by a quantum leap.

The Halsema Highway is a three-phase infra project of CAR, with the first phase (from La Trinidad, Benguet to Mt. Data) already completed with a length of 84.84Km. bearing an investment requirement for civil works amounting to Php1Billion. Phase II (from Mt. Data to Bontoc with a length of 50.5Km. bearing an investment requirement for Civil Works amounting to Php 1B and the third phase (from Bontoc-Banaue) with a total length of 39Km. and an investment for civil works amounting to Php780M.

Alquiza requested the Central Office that the testing be done in Baguio, and not in Manila and as requested also by the local contractors since it will entail so much expense for the contractors to transport their materials t the DPWH Central Office. Anyway, there is an accredited laboratory here in Baguio which can do the testing.

The CAR Regional Director said that contractors whose services are engaged by the CAR through a fair bidding process have been thoroughly pre-screened by the Central Office in Manila. "They have passed the pre-qualifying required criteria of having the financial 'muscle', equipment capability, manpower capability... capability and proven track record. Those with notorious track records are certainly disqualified from participating in the bidding proper', Alquiza said.

Alquiza said that the CAR leadership has always been guyided and inspired by the directive of DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. to "make sure (that) all projects comply with the project specifications as bid out." In this way, "we will make public works work for progress," Alquiza, quoting Ebdane, said. (PIA) [top]

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