MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 September) — Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. lambasted officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for stopping work along the Sayre Highway following allegations money has dried up in what he cited as the country’s 3rd most corrupt government agency.
“I want to see men resume work. I am giving you a week to go back to normal. Resume work or we will file cases,” Zubiri told Engr. Bonifacio Lora, DPWH 10 assistant regional director on Sept. 8, the day the Sangguniang Panlalawigan summoned the agency on the status of the highway projects within the province.
Zubiri said for at least a month, he noticed DPWH contractors haves stopped work along the highway. He said he saw no men and equipment at work, except for the personnel in-charge to man traffic along portions under repair.
Board members reminded Lora work in the highway should have been 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
“Yes it should be but sometimes they cannot comply,” Lora admitted.
Lora vowed to instruct contractors to resume work as soon as possible.
A DPWH project engineer initially said work did not stop in the area. But when Zubiri flared up, the DPWH official later admittec that the equipment are in the contractor’s motor pool in Brgy. San Miguel, Manolo Fortich.
Zubiri said there was no vehicle in the area.
“Is there still money?” he asked. Later he would also ask, “Is it true the money releases are delayed?”
Lora denied the accusations but also admitted of a month delay. DPWH officials said the contractors have problems with cement supply from Holcim, in Davao City.
Zubiri said contractors have indicated the problem is with DPWH’ releases.
Board member Ranulfo Pepito criticized DPWH’s failure to monitor the quality of the cement mix applied to the highway.
He called it an injustice to the people of Bukidnon that the DPWH has not enforced quality from contractors.
Zubiri said he has heard so many complaints from the public about the status of the road repair and maintenance along the national highway.
The province’s famous Atugan Bridge also figured in the discussion. Zubiri and some board members have expressed need to protect it and fear if the bridge gives in to deterioration, the province may not have a reliable alternative.
Zubiri said the detour road in Impasug-ong might be impassable because of two bridges that need renovation.
Zubiri said if the scenario comes, it might jeopardize traffic along Bukidnon’s Sayre highway.
Rey Peter Gille, district engineer of DPWH Bukidnon 1st engineering district, assured Zubiri he has already endorsed a project proposal to the regional office on the two bridges. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)