City engineer justifies P800K drone system deal

ENGR. Haydee Villanueva of the City Engineer’s Office shows to journalists the P800,000 drone system they purchased for the mapping and profiling of the city. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

The City Engineer’s Office (CEO) finally broke its silence on the alleged overpricing in the purchase of a drone.

In an interview Wednesday, Haydee Villanueva, Engineer II of the City Engineer’s Office (CEO), clarified that the P800,000 price tag is not just on the drone but also includes other components, accessories, and trainings of personnel who will handle the equipment.

“The P800,000 is not only limited to the single item, madamo na siya nga component. May ara na siya Real Time Kinematic (RTK) Receiver, rover, DJI Phantom IV Drone, and also included are three sets of training for the personnel,” Villanueva told the reporters.

According to Villanueva, the purpose of the instrument is to help the CEO in mapping and profiling of the city.

“The system has the ability to gather data such as distance, coordinates, and elevation which are needed by the CEO for our mapping, designing of the drainage and road networks. The RTK Receiver also has the capacity to provide live and real time on the ground data,” she added.

She said the equipment is needed not only because Iloilo City is a highly urbanized city but also to help respond to disasters.

“A lot of local and national agencies have been coming to ask for our mapping so we really need high level instrument which is more efficient and dasig ang output. As you know, Iloilo City is a highly urbanized city. Actually, purpose hindi lang sa drainage and mapping but actually para mapicturan man ang vertical structures sa Iloilo City and in unfortunate events such as disasters, we can assess the damaged structures,” she explained.

Villanueva said their office requested the equipment as early as 2016 during the time of former Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog but it was only realized in 2019.

Amo na ginrequest ni Mayor Jed, the real time monitoring report. We requested it since 2016 pa but there was a delay on the procurement because the supplier cannot comply with the required specs,” she said.

Joren Sartorio, General Services Office head, confirmed in a separate interview that the P800,000 drone system was actually part of the P2.995 million purchases of the CEO.

“Upon verification, the CEO is the end-user which has the primary accountability and responsibility sa utilization sang drone and its supporting program. The drone and its software program totaled to around P800,000,” he said.

Villanueva said the P2.9 million purchase included laptops, printers, and projector to be utilized by their office and were sourced from the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) fund of the city.

Ang fund ginkuha sa CDRRMO (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office) kay kami wala kami kwarta. It included laptops, printer, projectors kay ang amon ginagamit subong is personal. Actually, damo pa kita need para man ma-improve aton service but as you can see ginamat-amat pa lang namon because amo pa lang ni gani grabe na ang comment,” she said.

Villanueva also expressed frustration, particularly on comments and backlash they received in social media.

“I hope nahatagan ko na sabat ang duha-duha or may gaduha-duha pa sang mga logistics nga na-provide sang siyudad sa amon. Nahatag ko na ang sabat, kabay mahatagan hustisya kag maintindihan sang tanan nga amon ginhimo para sa kaayuhan sang siyudad. This time hopefully ma-correct namon ang mga records kay gina-validate man na,” Villanueva said.

The incoming administration of Mayor-elect Jerry Treñas has intimated through radio reports radio that he will investigate the alleged overpricing in the purchases of the current administration, particularly the vehicles, drone, and other equipment.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jose Espinosa III has mentioned in previous interview that he is open to any investigation.

In an interview, City Administrator Hernando Galvez appealed to the incoming administration to refrain from making conclusions on the current administration.

Masakit nga akusahan ang mga incumbent sang overpriced kon hambalon mo na overpriced it is criminal what if at the end of the day, they will realize nga wala gale and damage has been done. For me at this point of time, it is very premature for them to make such statement na overpriced because sila bal-an man nila nga there is such a process kung paano ka maghimo sang presyo,” he emphasized.

He stressed that all the transactions made under Espinosa’s administration were legal.

“I can generally say na wala kita overpriced transactions. Tanan nga transactions during our term were all regular and valid,” Galvez noted.