Iloilo City council pulls plug on DPWH projects

Vendors of the Mandurriao public market will have to make do with their makeshift stalls as the redevelopment of the market will surely be delayed. (City Hall photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Sangguniang Panglungsod of Iloilo City on Monday, June 10, stripped the local Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) office of authority over several projects and declared its head unwelcome.

The city council approved two resolutions in its regular session. The first, proposed by Councilor Johnny Young, chairperson of the council’s Committee on Engineering, Construction & Public Works, revoked the authority of the DPWH-Iloilo City District Engineering Office (ICDEO) over seven projects.

These projects include the Mandurriao public market and six multi-purpose buildings in various barangays.

Young cited delays by the DPWH-ICDEO but did not provide a legal basis if the city government or the city council has the power to issue such a revocation.

“[T]he DPWH has consistently failed to complete its ongoing projects in a timely manner, resulting in significant delays, budget overruns, and public inconvenience,” the resolution stated.

“[T]he delays in the completion of infrastructure projects have adversely impacted economic activities, disrupted daily lives, and undermined public trust in the government’s ability to deliver essential services,” it added.

The resolution was passed on the spot by the council without referral to Young’s committee, which would have triggered further study and review.

Aksyon Radyo Iloilo reported on Tuesday, June 11, that the Katilingban building is scheduled for completion in August, while work has stopped at the Dulonan and Sta. Filomena buildings.

Young told the media after the session that the resolution was based on an urgent request by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to the council.

He noted that the resolution was also driven by sentiments from residents in the affected barangays but he could not provide specific evidence.

“These had been long-time problems, but we haven’t been able to make any decisions while [Treñas] ultimately decided [to request the revocation],” Young said. “The issue here is that these projects were left behind because they had allegedly lacked funding; people aren’t seen working at the sites.”

Mayor Treñas said on Friday, June 7, that he would seek to revoke the DPWH-ICDEO’s authority to construct its projects but did not provide a legal basis at the time.

The council also passed Resolution No. 2024-508, sponsored by Councilor Jose Maria Miguel Treñas, declaring DPWH-ICDEO officer-in-charge Roy Pacanan persona non grata in the city due to the delays in the projects.

Pacanan had been the subject of the mayor’s ire the previous week over delays in moving out of the DPWH-ICDEO’s former office at Brgy. Veterans Village, a lot owned by the city government, and the delay in the construction of its permanent office in Sooc village, Mandurriao.

The district engineering office is currently headquartered at a temporary office along Mission Road in Montinola village, Jaro district.

Despite a letter and public expression of gratitude from the ICDEO last Friday, the mayor pushed through with declaring Pacanan as unwelcome.

Councilor Urminico Baronda, who abstained from voting on both resolutions, disagreed with the reasons stated in the two documents.

“I do not agree with the whereases, because Pacanan is fairly new. Their allegations are stemming from 2022. I cannot say that [the council] was wrong, but I do not agree,” Baronda said. “[Pacanan] should have been made to explain. They said that the DPWH[-ICDEO] was still at [Veterans Village] when in fact they have moved out as of [June 7].”

Regarding the revocation of the ICDEO’s authority, Baronda refuted Young’s claim of concerns from the barangay communities, stating they were actually satisfied with the projects.

“[We should’ve] discussed what was wrong [with the projects] so that they could continue, and not stop them. Then the city would continue [the projects], [but the question is,] does the city have money?” the councilor said.

Verification of the buildings in Young’s resolution reveals these were allocations from previous General Appropriations Acts facilitated by Dr. Baronda’s daughter, incumbent lone district Representative Julienne Baronda.

The lawmaker explained in a statement on Monday evening that her office facilitated funding for these projects, citing the national government practice of phased funding applied to other local DPWH projects.

“These substantial projects necessitate funding over multiple years or phase-by-phase financing. This approach is not new to our city, as we have seen similar long-term government-funded projects like our Esplanade and Sunset Boulevard,” she said.

“There are many projects which have been implemented under [Pacanan], such as the drainage congestion problem in Brgy. San Isidro, Jaro, which were lauded even by City Hall,” she pointed out.

“The funds I have facilitated for these projects do not go through my office as your representative in Congress,” she added.


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