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No more projects for Arroyo’s favored but erring contractors – DPWH Sec. Singson

ORMOC CITY – Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways said that they have already started cracking down on favored but erring contractors of the past Arroyo administration.
However, he said they have not blacklisted these contractors but rather, they are not allowed anymore to bag more contracts until all their backlogs are finished.
The public works secretary, in an exclusive interview at the airport here while he was waiting for Pres. Benigno Aquino III to arrive from St. Bernard town on January 14, said they have identified the top ten contractors who got the lion’s share of P10.5-billion of public infrastructure contracts awarded during the tailend of the Arroyo administration.
He added he was aware of the complaints from citizens that most of these contracts were left idle and unfinished, and some were even “ghost projects”.
“We are not blacklisting them yet, but we are not allowing contractors with backlogs to join in future biddings”, he said. He added they would prefer these contractors to finish whatever projects they were given, so that whatever they advanced will not be wasted.
Singson said that he is trying to put DPWH in order, as is the order of P-Noy. He said that for the period of July to December 2010 alone, they have already saved the country around P12-billion from minimizing graft.
A part of the housecleaning was to reorganize district engineering offices. Of the country’s more than 200 districts, only 10 district engineers remained in their original positions, he added.
In fact, when he goes back to Manila, he said, he will be implementing a 6-month suspension order by the Ombudsman on a particular district office which includes the district engineer, the assistant up to middle level executive posts.
“Mahirap ang trabaho ko”, he said, adding that even his family has fears for his life.  He said he is aware that he is stepping on the shoes of some DPWH top brass who have their own boys club. However, he said, he would also want to help the country because he had been given the opportunity to do so.
Singson said he knows the identity of the undersecretary who is known to be the padrino of these erring contractors, but added that he had already warned him to shape up.  He added the undersecretaries are career officers who are hard to dislodge but whom he will not have second thoughts of filing the proper procedures if they do not cooperate with P-Noy’s programs.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview, this time with DPWH regional director Engr. Rolando Asis, it was learned that Yakal Construction, owned by former congressman Eufrocino Codilla Sr.’s daughter-in-law Violy Codilla, has issued several promissory or subscribed “commitment” papers for projects that she left unfinished during Arroyo’s administration.
The same contractor was named in a Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism report as having bagged P881-million worth of contracts from 2004 to 2008, a good number of which were for the 4th district of Leyte.
Engr. Asis expressed optimism that Codilla would finish all their backlogs, adding that they already completed those they promised to finish on December 2010. It was also learned from Asis that Codilla’s backlog of projects do not only involve those in the 4th district but also in other areas of Leyte-Samar as well.
In a copy of a commitment that Engr. Codilla issued, it was learned that some of these projects are the construction and opening of the Albuera-Burauen Road, which she promised to finish by April 2010 and the repair and restoration of the Pagsanga-an River Control and Protection of Ormoc-Merida-Isabel-Palompon Road.
Asis said the latter had been completed already, while the P80-million Albuera-Burauen Road is scheduled to be finished on April 2011.
“So far”, he said, “50 percent completion na ang project na ito and based on our recent assessment, Yakal Construction’s remaining unfinished projects are all minor projects. Otherwise, blacklisted na sila sa DPWH”.
He added, “we can impose liquidated damages against them if they will just take for granted what we agreed in the commitment. Of course, we are not only talking about projects in the fourth district of Leyte but all projects in region 8 under Yakal construction”, Asis said.
Asis also warned that Yakal Construction has no reason at all to renege on their commitment of undertaking because these projects were supposed to have been completed in 2007-2008 yet.
On the other hand, Engr. Lino Gonzales, OIC district engineer of the 4th Leyte Engineering District, in an interview last December yet, said that they have also given Yakal Construction a resume to work order effective October 1, for projects she got from the district.
Gonzales said there are many project sources. There are some from the region, he said, like the Albuera-Burauen Road, while there are from the district allocation.
Among the district allocation is the road re-blocking at the front of HISUMCO, which he said “dako ang slippage” and that the contractor has to pay liquidated damages. The amount, he said, “depends on the work to be done at the time of the expiry which is usually 1% of the remaining contract amount everyday”.  He said the work at HISUMCO originally should have been finished on November 2010 yet, but was only started on October.
As of now, he said, Yakal Construction and other contractors who have backlogs cannot get projects anymore from the DPWH.

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