DPWH-built classrooms ‘more expensive’

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Friday, August 26, 2011

THE Infrastracture Development Committee (IDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC) yesterday discovered that classrooms built by the private sector are much cheaper than those built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

In their meeting at the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) yesterday and presided by IDC Chairman Emmanuel Rabacal, the DPWH and the Department of Education (DedEd) were made to explain the costs of schoolbuilding projects in the region and why they still failed to address the lack of classrooms.

DPWH 7 Assistant Regional Director Juby Cordon that under the Regular School Building Prgram (RBSP)of the government, her agency and DepEd are coordinating each other to build more classroom.


Cordon said that per official quotation, one classroom will cost P570,000 in Bohol, P570,000 in Cebu and P505,000 in Negros Oriental.

However, IDC Member Greg Matiao, a civil engineer, said that in Negros Oriental, they were able to build two classrooms for Aggap group of Pinky Aquino and the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce for only P380,000.

Matiao said a two-classroom building at P380,000 has a toilet.

Rabacal said he is curious why construction of a classroom costs much higher if undertaken by DPWH.

“Is there a kickback (grease money for DPWH officials)?” Rabacal asked.

But Matiao said the cost of construction through DPWH public bidding and contracts will increase because of withholding tax for value-added tax (VAT) and income tax and the allowable profit margin.

Despite the profit margin, Matiao said some schoolbuilding contractors in the rural areas are replacing “lawaan” lumber specified in the program of work to “Gemelina,” which is of lower quality and cheaper.

On the other hand, a DepEd representative said they have their own budget to construct schoolbuildings. But under the RBSP, DPWH only constructs schoolbuidings using the funds identified by congressmen.

Rabacal asked why some schoolbuildings have no fire exit.

Cordon said a fire exit is only needed in buildings of two storey and above. In a one-storey building, DepEd and DPWH designed it with two doors.

Another IDC member, Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager Paul Villarete suggested that DPWH and DepEd include blackboards and toilets in the construction of new schoolbuildings.

Cordon said the construction of additional school buildings is delayed this year because the the Department of Budget and Management has yet to release funds.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2011.

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