CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has threatened to file a case against the officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH 7) if they continue to delay the road rehabilitation project near the Marcelo Fernan Bridge along UN Avenue.

During their meeting with Garcia at the Provincial Capitol on Nov. 24, 2022, project contractor Edgar Tiu of BM Marketing offered to enter into a compromise agreement with the DPWH 7 to continue the project after learning that the Capitol would take charge in asphalting the dilapidated roads, but the government agency did not give a clear response on the matter.

The project has been stalled for three years.

Also present during the meeting were DPWH 7 Director Ernesto Gregorio Jr. and Assistant Director Danilo Villa.

The DPWH officials said they still have to file damages against the contractor, but Governor Garcia countered that such move would cause further delay in the project and prolong the misery of motorists.

Start of conflict

In 2019, the DPWH 7 terminated its contract with the Leyte-based BM Marketing after the former learned that the contractor had allegedly falsified its track record.

The government agency initiated the termination of the contract just as the contractor was in the middle of initiating the P711.8-million underpass and road widening project on UN Avenue that should have been completed on Aug. 24, 2020.

SunStar Cebu earlier reported that then DPWH 7 director Edgar Tabacon said that when they terminated their contract with BM Marketing, the latter was on the road-widening phase or the first phase of the project.

Tabacon said they immediately sent a letter to BM Marketing, telling the company about the DPWH Central Office’s order to blacklist it and terminate its contract with the agency.

But in response, BM Marketing resorted to filing a petition for injunction in a local court in Mindoro to stop the termination of contract. It questioned the termination notice, saying the DPWH had failed to send a report that verifies its allegations against the firm.

Compromise agreement

Garcia said during the Nov. 24 meeting that she would sue the DPWH 7 officials if they do not agree with the compromise agreement.

“I’m serious about this because that’s my duty. It’s my duty. What good am I if I turn a blind eye to something that is an anomaly and now is casting a heavy burden not just now [but] for three years, [and] has made the Cebuanos suffer, not to mention the image of Cebu?” Garcia told reporters, adding that the unfinished project which has caused flooding and dilapidated pavements gives a bad impression to tourists.

“I ask you to enter into a compromise agreement. If you want to sue for damages later on, [then] let that be,” Garcia said.

But the governor urged the contractor and the DPWH 7 to set aside their differences “for the public good.”

Back to work

Meanwhile, the Cebu Provincial Government has given BM Marketing clearance to start working on the emergency road access to widen the road and accommodate more vehicles in the area.

Several contractors have also expressed their interest in helping fix the potholes in the area through the help of engineer Daisy Toledo of DPWH’s Third Engineering District. (ANV / TPT)