Simon "Ka Filiw" Naogsan
Cordillera Peoples' Democratic Front
March 20, 2010
Print and radio ads of the Arroyo regime betrays its penchant for fabrications. The ads boast that
thousands of kilometers of roads were constructed during the nine-year presidency of Gloria Arroyo.
Former economic planning secretary Cielito Habito exposed the use of "selective statistics" in the regime's ads entitled "Ganito tayo noon, ganito tayo ngayon" comparing the 294,995 housing units provided under Arroyo's presidency to the 203,891 housing units provided by the Ramos administration and the 98,265 housing units provided by the Estrada administration. The ads conveniently ignore that Arroyo had nine years to do it against Ramos' six and Estrada's two and a half years. According to Habito, "On an average per year basis, Arroyo actually had the lowest performance at 32,777 units, against Ramos' 33,981 and Estrada's 39,306."
The Palace spinmasters seem to be uninformed that the DPWH itself commissioned a Bantay Lansangan report in 2009 that shows the opposite of the claims made in the advertisements. According to the Road Sector Status Report Card in the DPWH website, 43% of the roads or 8,280 kilometers were of poor or bad quality, while only 5,025 kilometers of paved roads were of good quality. In 2008, 26.7% of roads were still surfaced with gravel, 45.85% with concrete and 27.2% with asphalt. About 820 bridges were still made of bailey or timber. Some 15.8% of all bridges were structurally deficient.
The report added that 2,794 of 18,470 locally funded projects were delayed in 2006-2008, with as much as 18% delayed in 2007. Some 64 road projects funded by official development assistance (ODA) were delayed, ten of these tardy by at least two years. Only 293 of the total 874 road projects in 2008 were completed. Some 368 projects have not been started and seven were suspended. About 20% of these 874 projects are in Arroyo's home region, Central Luzon. Despite the 53% increase of road users from 2006 to 2008, there was only a 6% increase in roads nationwide.
Anomalies abound in many DPWH projects. More than 23% of the government contracts in Bicol were negotiated and had no public bidding, and 100% of the contracts in Region 1 were negotiated. About 14% of ODA projects had cost overruns amounting to P821.1 million, with six of the 12 overpriced projects having cost overruns reaching more than 10%. Cost overruns for locally-funded projects from 2006 to 2008 reached a total of P330 million.
Red tape continues to be the mark of DPWH contracts, adding to the delay of projects. The reactionary government's implementing rules on infrastructural work are flagrantly being violated. RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act mandates that the procurement process to complete civil works should take no longer than 4.4 months. The DPWH took up to seven months for processing, indicating kickback procedures were in effect. In 2007-2008, the number of cases of non- compliance with internal DPWH audit controls and systems increased from 29 to 42.
In 2006, as many as 353 out of 2,838 contracts had major defects. In 2008, some 216 out of 2,171 projects had major defects. As much as 42.1 percent of the centrally planned projects (PMO) had major defects. Despite this, no contractors were blacklisted in 2006 and 2007, and only two contractors were blacklisted in 2008. The Bicol Region had 107 reported irregularities but still no contractor was blacklisted. Last year, first gentleman Mike Arroyo was linked to anomalous deals involving World Bank funded infrastructure projects. Late last year, Gloria Arroyo began replacing DPWH regional directors with cabelen, her provincemates whom she believes will assist her in embezzling more funds from government infrastructure projects. About 12% of the budget for road repair and construction comes from motor vehicles user's charge which is subjected to less strict auditing and accounting procedures.
In the Cordillera Region, the World Bank suspended in 2007 the release of a $262-million loan package for the implementation of the remaining two phases of the controversial Halsema Road rehabilitation project following reports of irregularities and anomalies in its implementation. Affected by the suspension was some P1.3 billion for the Mt. Data-Bontoc section and the P780 million Bontoc-Banaue section .
The P6 billion SONA projects with the Halsema Highway as one of the priorities, has become the favorite milking cow of the bureaucrats through the rigging of bids for the different packages or road segments. Favored contractors of the DPWH were awarded with program works even without bidding processes in violation of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184.
The Cordillera has 86 SONA projects. Only the Bauko-Bontoc-Banaue portion involving 119.2 kilometers is nearing 93% completion, while another 119 kilometers from Bontoc to Tabuk, Kalinga via Tinglayan and Lubuagan is nowhere near 15% completion despite the allocation of P3.284 billion, according to DPWH sources. Thus a kilo of sili that costs P60 in Tabuk would cost P100 if brought to Bontoc due to the roundabout route through Isabela and Ifugao.
In 2006, the Commission on Audit (COA) itself revealed that 38 out of 47 projects funded by ODA were plagued with irregularities sanctioned by the Arroyo administration -- meaning corruption was built into these projects like the controversial NBN-ZTE deal and the Cyber-education projects. Partylist members of the House of Representatives revealed that the COA discovered irregularities in various ODA projects ranging from non-compliance with the procurement law and auditing rules, unliquidated cash advances, the absence of inventories and overstatement of accounts to project delays involving at least P4.66 billion.
The Arroyo government has lost its credibility. Its boastful claims of numerous accomplishments are belied by its own statistics. It is the Arroyo government that is being deceived by the lies it weaves to fool the people. The Arroyo administration is a dismal failure that does not deserve a repeat performance, but an accounting at the people's bar of justice.