Understandably, the members of the Provincial Project Monitoring Committee (PPMC) decried last week’s editorial of the Tribune on the findings of the body’s inspection of the now controversial Batalay seawall project.
The piece had described the PPMC members as blind for not including in their report the fact that broken concrete taken from defective concreting projects as well as common soil were used in the embankment in lieu of hand-laid rock as required by the project specifications.
The committee report focused on the delayed completion, substandard concrete revetment and relatively minor findings, including an inflated accomplishment report which sources at the DPWH say is normal in project implementation.
Not a word about the use of broken concrete and common soil in the PPMC report.
The Tribune agrees with the committee that its members are not, indeed, legally blind, as some of them noted the use of unapproved and substandard materials in the seawall embankment but did not insist on including the finding in the final report.
The committee says that its findings are only recommendatory to the agency in charge of implementing the project.
Created by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the PPMC meets once every quarter to inspect infrastructure projects based on a list from NEDA, usually “delinquent” projects in the later stages of implementation.
According to a member of the committee, what is needed is for the local government units themselves to create a monitoring team to periodically inspect projects being implemented in the locality by national agencies as it would be their constituents who will suffer if the work is substandard.
Describing the attitude of LGUs as “walang pakialam,” the PPMC member suggested that each municipality must have its own PMC that would keep an eye on how contractors of the DPWH and other infra agencies implement the projects.
It was also pointed out that the provision of Local Government Code of 1991 on the national government’s need for prior coordination with LGUs before any project is implemented has yet to be fully realized.
Perhaps, it is high time for the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Catanduanes Chapter to insist on the DPWH to furnish each municipal LGU a list of projects to be implemented within their respective jurisdictions, as well as the plans and program of work, before work is started by the winning contractor.
The project documents should be used by the MLGU team, particularly the engineering office, to explain to the residents of the recipient barangay how the project would be implemented and how they can help the local government monitor the project to ensure compliance with standards and specifications.
For example, residents could be taught the correct concrete mixture and materials to be used in the project.
By observing and taking videos of the work being undertaken by the contractor, they can send the footage to the LGU monitoring team so it can take appropriate action and deter whatever irregularities are being committed.
Having that many eyes to oversee a single project can prevent the selective blindless of DPWH project engineers and inspectors from allowing contractors to evade responsibility for projects of inferior quality.