Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Labo Bridge 2 probed

Labo Bridge 2
Photo by Romil del Moro/BICOLSTANDARD.COM
DAET, Camarines Norte (Bicol Standard)—Advocacy group Citizen’s Crime Watch (CCW) has intervened to scrutinize the records of the long overdue completion of the Labo Bridge 2 project which was started in February 2012.

As of yesterday (March 14) phases 1 and 2 of the project appear to have been already abandoned by the contractors.

Meanwhile, phase 3 of the same project has begun mobilizing equipment, but the construction activity remains to be very slow, according to CCW volunteers.

This is despite the lapse of the term as provided for in the contract.

Diego Magpantay Jr., National Executive Vice President, Head of the Bantay Public Works Project of CCW, and concurrent head of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Task Force told the BICOL STANDARD that he will not leave any stone unturned after receiving very disturbing information of possible violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019).

Glaring delay


Magpatay said the local chapter of CCW in Camarines Norte has already gathered documentary reports which point to the glaring delay in the project implementation.

Based on records from the DPWH District Engineer’s Office here, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a total of P228,272,989.00, for the three phases of the said bridge.

Phase 1 was allocated P43,560,000.00; Phase 2, P46,543,295.45.00; and Phase 3, P138,260,693.25.

The first phase was awarded to RC Tagala Construction. The notice to proceed was given to them on February 17, 2012. The project was expected to be finished on February 10, 2013.

As of this date, the scope of work covered under the contract for phase 1 has not yet been completed, and worse, the project has already been abandoned, Magpantay pointed out.

It was also learned by the BICOL STANDARD that RC Tagala construction is already delayed by four years, reckoned from the original completion target of February 10, 2013.

RC Tagala has already collected P28,250,250.881 on November 5, 2012.

This is out of the total budgetary allocation of P43,560,000.00, with an accomplishment of only 67%, according to Assistant District Engr. Victorio Corporal.

For phase 2, the contract was awarded to the joint venture of RC Tagala and Bemkar Construction.

It was able to collect P32,717,669.45 on November 25, 2013 with work accomplishment of only 70.5%. It is already delayed by three years, based on the original target date of completion.

Meanwhile, the third phase of the project is 72.22% complete and Saint Gerrard Construction has already collected P70,412,971.07.

CCW volunteers, however, believe that the physical accomplishment is much less than 72.22%, as practically they have just started to mobilize their equipment.

Field investigation by said volunteers says that as of now, they have not even laid down the piles, which are crucial for the bridge construction.

The volunteers will request for an actual accomplishment report from the DPWH on the matter.

Said phase is delayed by two years already since the notice to proceed was given on January 2015 and the original date of completion was December 30, 2015.

DPWH said that phase 3 of the bridge project will be completed this coming June, which appears to be highly improbable on account of the present status of the accomplishment, the volunteers said.

Use of name for a fee?


Moreover, an insider in the DPWH District Engineer’s Office admitted that although the contract was awarded to Saint Gerrard Construction Company, a local contractor allegedly called Varin Construction is the one implementing the project.

The informant who requested anonymity said the local contractor is just using the name of Saint Gerrard Construction since the project involves a multi-million contract. This, he said, is hightly anomalous especially since the abovementioned construction firm has been identified in several complaints already for its involvement in similar transaction for the use of its name only for a fee.

Complaint


Magpantay Jr., said he is contemplating filing a complaint against the allegedly erring public officials, including the contractors.

He said he wants to seek the immediate imposition upon the contractors of the necessary liquidated damages pursuant to Republic Act 9184.

This is due to the failure to finish the projects within the time provided for in the contract.

Aside from damages, he is also poised to initiate a legal action for the blacklisting of the contractors who are involved in said project.

Magpantay further recalled that he had once filed a complaint against Saint Gerrard Construction involving the sea wall project undertaken by the said company in the town of Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

There were alleged irregularities in the project implementation, hence he decided to investigate on the project.

“I had a chance meeting with the owner of Saint Gerrard Construction in Manila,” Magpantay said.

“He admitted that they are not directly engaged in the implementation of the project. They are just interested in allowing other contractors to use their license in exchange for an amount that they could agree upon.”

Jubert Estrella, a volunteer of Citizens Crime Watch in Camarines Norte, initiated the investigation of the project by sending a letter to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Sec. Mark Villar asking to probe the Labo Bridge II.

As a result of said letter, the Office of the Secretary instructed his staff to validate the complaint.

Meanwhile, Magpantay said, “If these issues are not properly addressed, we will bring this to attention to the Office of the Ombudsman as part of our campaign against graft and corruption.”

“I am confident that with the assumption to office of our new DPWH V Regional Director Danilo Versola, he will not take this problem sitting down,” he further added.
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