DPWH’s refusal to cut the trees

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014


AS THE Spanish saying goes, “mas vale tarde que nunca” (better late than never). It took the government almost a year to approve the rehabilitation and recovery plan for the places badly hit by the mega earthquake and by super typhoon Yolanda last year.

President Noynoy Aquino revealed the approval of the plan during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. Officials of the cities and towns in the Visayas that were hit by the two calamities cheered.

It was not explained though why it took this long for the administration to approve the comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plans for Cebu, Iloilo, Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte and Tacloban City, all badly hit by Yolanda.

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All that the President said was that the comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plans were scrutinized by the Cabinet and Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson.

Cebu will receive P12 billion for the rehabilitation and recovery of the towns and one city that were greatly affected by the earthquake and typhoon.

Cebu Gov. Junjun Davide, who attended the SONA at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City, was glad over the development. Straightforward and inspiring was how he described the President’s SONA.

Since the rehabilitation and recovery plans that the Aquino administration would implement entails humongous amount of money, the President has called on Congress for its cooperation in passing the budget.

In asking Congress to pass the budget instead of using the savings for the purpose, the President, in a way, respected the Supreme Court’s ruling that declared part of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional.

It was a show of respect for the independence of the judiciary when the President did not dwell on DAP in his SONA even if he strongly defended it in his previous talks.

The DAP was the brainchild of Budget Secretary Butch Abad. Despite the clamor from the opposition and militant groups for him to ax Abad, the President did not accept Abad’s resignation.

Millions of Filipinos still believe in President Aquino’s achievements and honesty even if his bitter critics and militant groups want him impeached over the DAP issue.

***

What do we expect from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)? Even under the “tuwid na daan” policy of President Aquino, this department still leaves so much to be desired.

Look at the road projects in the north, from Consolacion to Danao City. The slow road-widening and drainage works has caused terrible traffic during the day. And it’s worse during peak hours.

What is even difficult to understand is that the laying of culverts for the drainage and the construction of the sidewalks were done after the highway was paved or was asphalted. Is this the way of the tuwid na daan?

And what has the Commission on Audit (COA), the guardian of our funds, done to prevent the indiscriminate and unrestricted wastage of public funds that could have been used in the calamity stricken areas?

In Consolacion, the DPWH is constructing a bridge going to the north past the big mall. If I remember correctly, this part of the road was recently paved or asphalted.

The construction of this bridge will perhaps improve the traffic in the area but it wastes scarce funds and resources. This untidy practice is not helping this administration. Do they care?

Recently, the DPWH refused to cut down the ageing and diseased acacia trees along the highway from Naga City to Carcar City to widen the road because they don’t want to plant the replacement trees.

If the conditions that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) imposed on the permit to cut the acacia trees are impractical, the DPWH could ask for a reconsideration instead of reneging from its obligations.

The DPWH did not only renege from its responsibilities, it also tossed to Naga and the other concerned local government units the job to cut the trees.

(atty.ellieE@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 31, 2014.

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