Mabalacat residents hit Public Works department-A A +A
Sunday, January 27, 2013
MABALACAT CITY -- Residents along the MacArthur Highway here assailed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for implementing a road widening project without prior notice and compensation of affected properties.
The residents, led by Lawyer Anthony Manalang of the Public Attorney's Office in Angeles City, aired their complaints in a letter sent to the City Council here.
Manalang told city officials, during the initial committee hearing at the City Council, that the residents raised the same issue nine years ago. Because of this, the DPWH ceased from implementing the project.
The letter of complaint was signed by Barangay Poblacion residents, including Manalang, whose property is believed to be affected by the project.
"We are not against progress, but the Bill of Rights states that you cannot just take the properties without just compensation," Manalang said.
The issue was left hanging and no actions were taken by the City Council several years ago, said Manalang.
Engineer Jason Jauco, project inspector of DPWH, clarified that they send prior notice to residents, whose properties are affected by the ongoing project.
He also informed Barangay Poblacion residents that the rehabilitation of a span along the national highway will not cover their village. He said Jauco assured the city officials that the agency is keen on discussion and settling with the owners in an amicable way all disputes arising from the project implementation.
He said he will relay the residents' concerns to the regional office of the DPWH.
He also made an assurance that there will be just compensation on properties which will be affected by the project.
"Just compensation of the properties of the residents and compensation of the improvements and fences [that will be demolished]," Jauco said.
Land titles and tax declaration of the property owners will be submitted to head office of the DPWH for evaluation and assessment, according to the engineer.
Vice Mayor Noel Castro said that the agency cannot implement a project without proper coordination with the local government unit.
"Bago galawin ang properties dapat may notice at just compensation na," Castro said.
The vice mayor told Jauco to coordinate first with affected individuals and businessmen before gaining control of properties and destroying fences and structures.
Castro also suggested to the DPWH officials that a memorandum should be forged between the agency and the residents.
"Kawawa naman ang aming mga constituents, dapat may assurance na babayaran sila ng DPWH sa kanilang mga properties," Castro said.
The road widening project, from Barangays Dau to San Francisco will be completed by March 2013, Jauco said. (Reynaldo G. Navales)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 28, 2013.