‘First blood’ in P680-M Iloilo flyover House probe

By Alex P. Vidal

“Do I provoke as a method of investigation? Of course. That’s the essence of architecture. Do I do it with gusto? I do.”—Thom Mayne

WHAT happened during the first hearing on the defective P680-million Ungka flyover or the Iloilo flyover project by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Works and Highways in the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City on August 15 can be considered as “appetizer”.

It can be likened to a first quarter in basketball, or the first 10 kilometers in the 42.195-kilometer full marathon.

In any acquaintance party, there are no fireworks and flaks. In any warm up, the intensity of action is lesser, slower, and serene.

Since the main character, the International Builders Corporation (IBC), the contractor tasked by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to build the controversial flyover was missing, there was more reason for the inquisitors, led by committee chair, Surigao del Sur 1st District Rep. Romeo Momo, to hold their chariots.

Since it was only DPWH Region 6 assistant director, Engr. Jose Al Fruto, who became the main aperitif in the hearing, there was no way for some committee members to extract pieces of coppers from the wood.


They will have to wait until the next hearing, the second quarter in basketball, or the first 20 kilometers in the full marathon, will unwrap in Iloilo City as proposed by Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel, before a full-blown catechism is expected to unleash.

Thus, all the reports that came from the inaugural House inquiry centered heavily on the production of the copy of geotech investigation report by Metro Manila-based Abinales Associates Engineers + Consultants, which conducted the geotechnical investigation for a fee of P13,480,880.

It will be very interesting when the inquiry touches on the project’s needs identification, policies and plans, prioritization, planning, feasibility and preparation, funding and financing, delivery, design, procurement.

Also, in construction and management, operation and maintenance, and end of life.

The qualifications and background of the contractor or contractors; the qualities and specific budget set aside for materials used during the actual implementation of the expensive project; and how the project was awarded to the contractor or contractors.

Let’s wait with bated breath for the highlights of the House inquiry on this scandal-ridden project that has put a blot on the image of the city and province of Iloilo in terms of quality and efficiency in the implementation of state-budgeted highway projects.


DAMAYAN MIGRANT WORKERS ASSOCIATION GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Damayan members and supporters gathered at The People’s Forum in Manhattan, NYC for the Damayan Annual General Assembly and Board Election on July 29.

It was the epitome of Damayan’s democratic principle of giving and upholding the power of the eligible members to vote for their board members by a confidential ballot.

The momentous occasion with Damayan’s highest decision-making body involved: The Executive Director’s report on Damayan’s 2022 Annual Accomplishment Report and discussion of the Damayan 2023 Program of Action.

The general membership was inspired by Damayan’s 20 years of impact and unanimously approved the 2023 Program of Action to continue servicing and empowering the Filipino migrant workers.

Election of three Damayan board members for 2023-2025: The Damayan General Assembly voted in three board members after listening to their platforms: 1. Riya Ortiz, Damayan’s new executive director; 2. Karina Garcia, current board chair and long-time Damayan ally and organizer; and 3. Raffy Garcia, a Filipino Certified Public Accountant with an extensive record of working and helping NYC nonprofits to strengthen their financial operations and a long time supporter of Damayan.

Previous board treasurer, Neal Stone, was not included in the three highest number of votes. The organization said it will be forever thankful for all his contributions in solidifying the board leadership and in building Damayan since 2006.

Reaffirming Damayan’s mission and quest to end labor trafficking and modern-day slavery through a sharp Damayan orientation: Damayan screened for the first time official video Damayan orientation, which reaffirmed and streamlined the mission, analysis, programs and services; and the members’ rights and responsibilities. Attendance in a Damayan orientation was one of the requirements to vote at the GA.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)