>> Sunday, January 25, 2009
By Dexter A. See
BAGUIO CITY – The beleaguered Cordillera Highways chief who had been accused by critics over “substandard, anomalous and corrupt” implementation of infrastructure projects in the region particularly Halsema Highway lashed back at his critics saying “defects in such projects should not always be equated to corruption to pin down personalities but should be viewed in a holistic manner so as not to prejudice and compromise quality of work.”
Engineer Mariano R. Alquiza, regional DPWH director said “continuous allegations of substandard implementation of projects, particularly State of the Nation Address commitments of President Macapagal-Arroyo in the region, had been blown out of proportion by some interest groups” who have acts to grind against agency officials.
“If there are really defects in the projects which will be uncovered by the agency’s inspectorate team, the contractor is obliged to replace the work at his own expense and no government funds will be wasted in such case, thus, the quality of the project is maintained up to its completion and eventual turnover to the agency,” he said.
The DPWH official said critics had been putting the blame on him and a few other officials for alleged substandard implementation of work saying there are other agency officers directly supervising projects who have a hand in overseeing all projects implemented by the agency.
While SONA projects have been bid out in the regional level, he said the implementation stage is under the supervision of the project engineer, district engineering offices where the projects are located, the construction, maintenance and quality control divisions of the regional office, assistant regional directors for maintenance and construction before ending up with the regional director.
Alquiza said their work is “too politicized because of involvement of a lot of personalities in identification of projects coupled with the selfish desire of some interest groups and individuals to corner projects, thus, they are simply torn between two lovers.”
According to him, the complaints and accusations being hurled against him by purported anti-graft crusaders in Mountain province and Kalinga are the handy work of disgruntled groups and individuals who were not able to get their desired projects from those which were earlier bid out by the agency under the SONA commitments of the President.
Alquiza claimed those who are very vocal about the issue are contractors who do not have appropriate licenses and have very disappointing performances in their previous projects which they sub-contracted from legitimate contractors, thus, it was the licensed contractors who were penalized for substandard works which their partners implemented.
Alquiza added the disgruntled groups and individuals had been subjecting him to trial by publicity the past few months but they were not brave enough in filing the charges in the proper forum where the arena would be fair to all parties concerned.