Opinion: Corruption in the Government’s Infrastructure Projects (Part II)
THE OTHER TACTICS. There is also a contractor who specializes in construction of water systems on a design-and-build basis. He was able to effect theconstruction of the supposed water system in Hinobaan, but the question he did not answer first is where the water is to come from. Hinobaan and the local government against the opposition of its councilors protested implementation of the program which would be funded with a P60-M loan from the Postal Bank in Bacolod. As expected, the water system project which started years ago is now a white elephant, unused, useless and clearly a ploy to make money for members of the local government and which the contractor is now pressuring officials to pay him in full. There are several issues when the demand of the contractor to pay him in full, is concerned: first, there is no more money and second, there is no water coming out of the water system. If the local government and the contractor Andy Taculod can answer this question satisfactorily, then that is well and good, if they cannot, that is worse because Hinobaan would pay its IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment for the loan. Being a small town, it would have to forego implementation of many of its basic services, to find money for the loan.
MORE EXAMPLES. There is another mountain town which is building a bridge. The former mayor accused the contractor of cutting indigenous trees for the bridge projects and until now we are wondering whether it has been finished or not. Highly-reliable sources, indeed, informed us that this contractor cut so many indigenous trees which is banned by environmental and ecological laws. This contractor is also involved in furniture-making. In another town, a local official built a bus terminal and because it was irregular, the contractor filed a complaint against him with the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas. But until now, nothing has happened. The contractor is well-known for settling with those he always files complaint against. Both are now happily embracing each other, or laughing their way to the bank. Another project, a water system, is being proposed by the mayor there. So, how much is the commission? In his numerous statements, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson has said that about 30-40 percent is being skimmed off from the infrastructure budget everytime there is a government project. He is an authority on the matter. So, what are we going to do about it? It is a system already in operation for many, many years. It is already institutionalized. Lately, we also heard so many allegations here about some DPWH officials telling representatives of proponents of infra projects of the government that it is usually withholding 10 percent of the total cost of the projects. Those who said so make it appear that this is official. They pointed out that this is for slippages in the projects.
On this score, we will write DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson officially whether this is true or not.
There are also talks that congressmen who have the budget get a certain percentage of the cost of the project or projects.
Under these circumstances, who should we blame for this state of affairs in the implementation of these projects? The anomaly starts with the bidding process where the usual practice of contractors, we believe, is to manipulate the bidding process. This cannot be done without the contractors themselves doing these. One contractor, in fact, approached a congressman and allegedly told him without batting an eyelash that he would be willing to handle all his projects with the insinuation that he should get a share, the congressman, too and presumably the government engineers. The contractors have devised many ways of "killing" a cat. So, when one talks about irregularities in government infra projects which comes first, the cart or the horse? Unfortunately, in the province, it is the contractors themselves who manipulate the process. Those who have thick hides are very well-known here. Ask them. Tell you me. But, indeed!*