By JUNE S. BLANCO
REP. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2nd District) has expressed anxiety anew over the “wastage” of public funds in the re-clocking activities of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Aumentado says far from being shattered to merit re-blocking, the concrete pavements are still whole.
He says the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is heading in the right direction when it started improving local roads.
To note, the DILG has embarked into the Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces (CMGP) program that started with provincial roads but will ultimately include all other roads.
Being one of initially 10 provinces that received grants from the Government of Australia to rehabilitate, maintain and improve provincial roads, Bohol already has a Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP).
With CMGP, however, DILG has instructed the provinces to upgrade their respective PRNDPs into Local Road Network Development Plans (LRNDP) to include city, municipal and even barangay roads.
It may not be easy, but Aumentado is looking at the possibility that DPWH and DILG can pool their resources together to help local government units (LGUs) improve their roads.
He said LGUs are mandated to allocate 20% of their income for development funds. Since the allocation of barangays and even municipalities are not as substantial as those of cities and provinces to rehabilitate, repair and improve roads, he expressed the desire that funds for re-blocking be spent for the former instead,
DPWH’ re-blocking activities have drawn flak from netizens who bash that agency for the seeming waste of public funds.
To register his opposition to early re-blocking, Aumentado filed a bill seeking to declare concrete roads to be “no touch” to DPWH and its contractors for the duration of their life span.
This means, he explained, roads designed to last for five years, if found still good, should be touched or re-blocked – only when the five years are up.
This will complement President Duterte’s economic agenda, he said.
With the national highways stil “untouchable”, DPWH will have the option of developing qualified rural roads instead.
Only then can the rural areas be empowered to contribute to the economy. To note, Aumentado said, bad roads spell delays in bringing farm produce to the market – make leafy greens wither and less saleable, and worse, at a higher price since habal-habal drivers charge higher fares.