Personnel of the Department of Public Work, C and Highways (DPWH) scrambled to remove tarpaulins of a provincial politician from government infrastructure projects last week after a taxpayer took District Engineer Denis Cagomoc to task over the alleged violation of existing rules and regulations.
Inside the compound of the DPWH Catanduanes District Engineering Office, the ongoing construction of a building extension previously sported a tarpaulin bearing the photo of Congressman Eulogio Rodriguez and proclaiming the same to be the solon’s priority project.
The sign was placed on the sackolin perimeter fence alongside the standard DPWH project billboard telling the public that “this is where your taxes go” and a COA billboard containing project details.
Last May 15, taxpayer Felix delos Santos of Calatagan Tibang, Virac, sent a letter to DE Cagomoc on the proliferation of the solon’s tarpaulins installed side by side with DPWH project billboards.
He told the official that this is in violation of DPWH Department Order No. 11 (Series of 2022), DO No. 21 (s. 2017), DO No. 141 (s. 2016) and DO No. 72 (s. 2015); Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 2013-004 and Section 18 of the General Appropriations Act of 2022.
In telling DE Cagomoc not to feign ignorance of the installation of the political billboards as the same is of public knowledge, the taxpayer also accused the official, the construction section chief and project engineers of a grand conspiracy.
“Failure on your part to perform your sworn duty will constrain us to file administrative and criminal cases before the Ombudsman for gross misconduct, ignorance of the law, dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the service and violation of RA 3019 and Civil Service rules and regulations,” the letter stressed in demanding that the billboards be removed within five days.
The Tribune tried to get the side of DE Cagomoc and the construction chief but they were reportedly out of the office at the time.
While the Tribune reporter was prevented from going to the project inside the DPWH compound, an official confirmed that the solon’s tarpaulin, as well as the two project billboards and the perimeter fence, have been removed.
DPWH DO No. 21, Series of 2017, providing revised guidelines on the installation of project billboards, specifically state that “names and/or pictures of any personages should not appear in the billboard.”
It also mandated that DPWH contractors shall not be allowed to place names of politicians or campaign billboard on their equipment.
Sec. 18 of the GAA 2022 provides that “it shall be prohibited to affix the name, visage, appearance, legal signature, or other analogous image of any public official, whether elected or appointed, at all Programs, Activities and Projects (PAPs) or its corresponding signage which are funded under this Act.”
On the other hand, COA Circular No. 2013-004 states that the display and/or affixture of the picture, image, motto, logo, color motif, initials or other symbol or graphic representation associated with the top leadership of the project proponent or implementing agency/unit/office, on signboards, is considered unnecessary.
“This rule shall also apply to signboards displaying and/or affixed with the picture, image, motto, logo, color motif, initials or other symbol or graphic representation associated with Members of the Congress, Executive Officials or Local Officials where the PPA is implemented wholly or partially through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Congress or through other forms of fund transfers from the Executive Department or LGUs,” it added.