PACC to probe irregularities in quake-damaged buildings

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 Nov) – The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) will look into possible irregularities in the construction of school buildings and related structures in public schools that were damaged during the recent series of major earthquakes in parts of Mindanao.

PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna said they are currently collaborating with various government agencies to determine problems with the structural integrity of the school buildings, especially those that were newly built.

He said the investigation will mainly cover public school-based structures in quake-hit localities in Region 12 and the Davao Region, as well as in other areas.

Luna said they will look at the performance of the Department of Education in the implementation of the school building projects.

“More than a thousand school buildings have been affected, some have collapsed. So there may be problems with the design or the construction materials used,” Luna said in an interview with reporters at the Sultan Kudarat provincial capitol in Isulan town Thursday afternoon.

Based on the assessment conducted by local government units in quake-affected areas, a significant number of classrooms and school buildings, including those newly constructed, sustained minor to severe damages following the strong earthquakes on Oct. 16, 29 and 31, the highest recorded at magnitude 6.6.

In Koronadal City alone, more than 140 school-based structures were earlier reported damaged due to the quakes.

Among those found with major damages were school buildings for senior high school that were constructed in the last three years by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Luna said they will determine whether there was negligence on the part of the implementing agencies involved in these projects.

“But we are not ready to rule that somebody must answer here or what although we are not also ruling out the possibility [about that],” he said.

The official said the PACC, which has launched a fact-finding investigation into the proliferation of sub-standard steel and cement in the country, is looking at the situation “from an open mind perspective.”

“Above the accountability side, we are also concerned on the policy aspect, especially measures that will strengthen the monitoring and enforcement against the production as well as the distribution of sub-standard steel and cement,” he said. (MindaNews)