ALLEGATIONS of overpricing and substandard work by contractors of some of the barangay infrastructure projects in Cebu City have been raised, prompting a city councilor and some barangay officials to ask for an investigation.

The projects in question were funded by the P182-million aid to the barangays, which Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) distributed directly to barangays when he was still mayor in November last year, and other funds released before the May elections.

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In Barangay Kalunasan, a barangay councilor alleged that their riprap project was not constructed according to the program of works and estimates (POWE) and the contractor is charging them P11 million instead of the P8.6 million indicated in the POWE.

That prompted City Councilor Jose Daluz III to ask the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) to investigate the complaint and to check other barangay projects that were implemented using the City’s financial assistance to villages.

Mayor Michael Rama also said last night that he wants the projects closely monitored to find out the status and to make sure there is no anomaly, “kay apil baya ko sa pagapprove ana (I was involved in the approval).”

Based on initial reports that Daluz got, the contractor of the project in Kalunasan also handled most of the projects of other barangays in the south district.

“We have been getting raw information that the projects are substandard, that is why we have to investigate it. We are also asking the DEPW to check who these contractors who were awarded with the projects and what are their track records? If substandard gani ang quality sa ilang trabaho, we will blacklist them,” Daluz told Sun.Star Cebu.

Kalunasan first councilor Nunilon Monaves Jr. said yesterday that the riprap along the river in Sitio Lokana was haphazardly constructed and could easily be washed away by the strong current of floodwaters during heavy rains.

Residents who were concerned about the quality of the project reported the matter to him.

Monaves said the project ended up useless because residents are still at risk. He said it is as if the barangay just wasted the P11 million given by the city.

He said he checked the project and saw that the riprap was just rocks held together by thin wires. The boulders were not even cemented to secure them in place and the foundation was not buried deep enough in the ground, he said.

But Kalunasan Barangay Captain Edelito Mabano said the allegations are not true and these were just fabricated by his political opponents who are gearing for the barangay elections later this year.

“How can they say it’s overpriced when we have not even paid the contractor yet? Pamolitika ra gyud na sa akong kontra,” he said.

Daluz and a barangay captain who requested anonymity said the same contractor, who is a “favorite” of a lot of barangay officials, undertook the projects of other south

district barangays, which they would not identify yet pending confirmation.

Sudlon I Barangay Captain Dante Tabucal said he had to ask the contractor to redo the finishing works of their day care center after he found it to be substandard.

DEPW Head Kenneth Enriquez said she already sent letters to all barangay captains to notify them once the projects are completed so they can begin inspection to make sure these were implemented properly before any payment is made.

Last year, the City entered into a memorandum of agreement with the barangays for the release of the funding for projects.

As agreed, the barangays will bid out and implement the project to do away with bureaucracy in City Hall, which often causes delays.

Enriquez said that as soon as the barangays give them the completion report, they will inspect the project to check if it complied with the POWE.

“If upon inspection we are doubtful of the quality of the project, then we can ask the contractor to repair it or do it again at no cost to the City Government,” she said.

Daluz said the investigation would guide them in the implementation of the barangay infrastructure projects in the north district.

Rama issued a memorandum last Tuesday authorizing Daluz, the city treasurer, budget officer and city account to facilitate the release of the funds to the north district barangays as soon as possible.

Of the P182 million the City distributed last November, P102 million went to the projects of south district barangays and have already been implemented, while the P80 million for the north district have yet to be released.

For better implementation of the projects, he said they will screen all the City’s contractors and accredit only those who have a good track record.

Also, they will not allow progressive billing for projects, so that the barangays will

only make one-time payment after the project is completed.

“We gave the funds directly to the barangays with the intention of avoiding delays and if implemented properly, this is to the benefit of the barangays and the constituents. Mao ng ato untang tarongon ug dala ang program,” Daluz added.