Baguio mayor files case vs DPWH execs, contractor

>> Sunday, July 17, 2022

‘Graft and corruption’ 

BAGUIO CITY -- Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong formally filed a complaint against eight officials of the Baguio City District Engineering Office of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (BCDEO-DPWH) and a private contractor for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
    The affidavit-complaint was received by the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City last July 5, 2022.
     Named respondents were BCDEO District Engineer Rene F. Zarate; Assistant District Engineer Glenn V. Reyes; and Engineers Cesario L. Rillera, Gil L. Nuque and Nora R. Delos Santos, Alfredo O. Bannagao Jr; Project Engineer Tedler Depaynos and Administrative Officer V Maria Luisa V. Batac; and Wilfredo E. Gopeng of W.E.G. Construction.
     The complaint stemmed from a DPWH-funded project worth P10.4 million for an off-carriageway improvement of a tertiary road along A. Bonifacio Road with contract duration of 120 calendar days.
     The project was awarded to W.E.G. Construction through public bidding with the contract dated September 16, 2021.
     In his complaint, Magalong alleged that the project was disadvantageous to the government and constitutes corrupt practices due to the contractor’s failure to remedy the defects, deficiencies and recommendations of the BCDEO’s Project Engineer Loida L. Taynec and Chief Construction Section Alfredo O. Bannagao, Jr. dated May 16, 2022.
    Another inspection on the project site was conducted by the City Engineering Office Maintenance Division Engineering Assistant Rodel Q. Lagare upon the complaint of Raey Leal, a concerned citizen relative to the above-mentioned project.
     Magalong said that a confirmatory inspection was conducted by City Engineer Edgar Victorio Olpindo and City Buildings and Architecture Officer Johny Degay on June 7, 2022 and “discovered that the materials used in the project are substandard and defective resulting to poor construction.”
    In a television interview by PTV Cordillera to engineer Zarate on June 8, 2022, the District Engineer was quoted by Magalong saying “that the project is not substandard but only defective as to some parts only.”
    On June 9, the DPWH-BCDEP furnished the contractor a Notice of Defects/Deficiencies with a directive to commence the repair works within seven days and to complete the works within 30 days.
    The DPWH-BCDEO listed five defects: insufficient concrete paving blocks on directional and warning tactile in all PWD ramps per the approved plan; cement floor finish tenting “kapak” or hallow sound heard when tile adhesive and cement were poorly applied; unfinish driveway concreting and porac sand was not used on floor finish; transverse cracks at cement floor finish lacking cement mortar; and, spoiled concrete on the cement floor finish.
    Despite the notice, Magalong alleged that the DPWH-BCDEO’s action was only an afterthought to the inspection he led with Olpindo and Degay.
    “It only shows that the BCDEO officials are not assigning personnel to supervise or oversee the projects being undertaken by their office,” Magalong added.
    The mayor said that up to the date of filing, the contractor with the tolerance of the BCDEO officials, “purposely failed to undertake necessary corrective measures to address the defects/deficiencies as stated in the 16 May 2022 punchlist. Despite of the slippage of more than 30 days from the expiration of the original 120-day period to finish the project, the project is still ongoing without the contract being terminated. Instead, the implementing agency merely subjected the contractor to liquidated damages.”
    Magalong hopes that the complaint will serve as a test case to spur improvement in the implementation of government infrastructure projects. - JMPS/PIO BAGUIO


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