CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The unresolved problem on right-of-way (ROW) is stopping the completion of vital road projects that have been implemented primarily in Angeles City in preparation for the holding of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit next year, according to a source from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The source, who asked not to be identified, told Sun.Star Pampanga that the projects, worth over P1 billion, were started without resolving first the long-standing right-of-way issue that was seen as a potential setback.

"But government was committed to finishing the projects in time for the Apec so the DPWH went ahead and probably thought the ROW issue could be taken care of later on," the source said.

It did not turn out that way.

The strategy, according to the source, was for the projects to be launched even as negotiation for the ROW was simultaneously being conducted with concerned private individuals.

"Negotiations have apparently bogged down because many of the projects are way, way behind schedule," the source said.

One of the projects, the source said, is the Pandan-Magalang Road.

Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan earlier threatened to sue contractors of the different projects in his turf due to the delay that has drawn the ire of motorists, business people and local folk.

The source said the ROW problem was inherited by the current DPWH officials from their predecessors who could not bring the issue to a close because of many factors, among them political and legal.

The source said that many private individuals and establishments along the routes of the Apec road projects have encroached on government property.

"Basically, the ROW problem has been exacerbated over the years of inaction owing the lack of political will from authorities," the source said.

But the source admitted that some of the contractors who have been awarded the projects do not have the equipment to finish the job on time.

"It's really a confluence of many factors that are well within control," the source.

Still, the source said, there is still enough time to complete the projects in time for the Apec meet, which is expected to shore up the image of the Philippines as an emerging economy in Asia.

Recently, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson instructed DPWH Regional Director Antonio Molano Jr. to bar several contractors from participating in any new bidding until they finish on time their projects for the Apec meet at the Clark Freeport.

Molano had told Sun.Star Pampanga that the contractors of the Apec projects have been castigated for the delay in road and construction works. He gave the assurance, however, that the projects will be completed "ahead of schedule." (NCS/JTD)