Tuesday July 17, 2018

Editorial: Need to involve the public

THE discussion during the first quarter meeting of the Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board (MCDCB) on the current road works in the Metro Cebu area was interesting because of the presence in the gathering of DPWH officials in the region. But the public wouldn’t have known what was discussed had reporters not covered the activity.

Those road works have sparked complaints from the commuting public who were most affected by the traffic problems these created. In certain cases, the complaint was not only about the inconvenience but also about the conceptualization of the projects themselves.

In Minglanilla town, the rehabilitation of a portion of the national highway that traverses the town center has slowed down vehicles going to and from the province’s southern areas, sparking complaints. But people were also asking why a road that was already concreted had to be cemented again—and at what cost to the government.

Questions accompany the implementation of road projects because of the inconvenience these create. But together with these are questions on how the projects were conceived and whether consultations with those that would be affected were adequate.

Here, what happened in Boljoon can be cited as example. The slope benching of the town’s famous Ili Rock and the planned reclamation work in Barangay Talisay sparked such a furor DPWH had to temporarily halt the project implementation and conduct further consultations. It turned out only top municipal government officials knew about these.

Capitol eventually gave its imprimatur to the projects, which means that there wasn’t anything sinister in them. But the furor would not have erupted had the DPWH attended to an important aspect of project conceptualization and implementation, which is consulting those affected and conducting information drives.

Most national government agencies have people designated as public information officers obviously in recognition of the need for transparency. Judging from the many years that the DPWH has been embroiled in controversies related to its work, one can say that it doesn’t have such designated officers.

That means that consultation and public information are at the bottom of its list of priorities, which is wrong.