Ifugao hospital construction stopped
BAGUIO CITY—Officials of Ifugao province last week suspended the construction of the provincial hospital to allow experts time to inspect the facility following complaints about alleged anomalies raised at the provincial government and in an online petition.
Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. on Saturday said the suspension was the result of a public investigation he led on Friday on work on a new Ifugao General Hospital building.
The second phase of construction in the hospital’s new site in Poblacion North in the capital town of Lagawe began in March, under the supervision and financial support of the Department of Health (DOH).
But documents posted online by a concerned Ifugao resident, which was linked to an online petition in the change.org website, showed that the government team overseeing the project had allegedly neglected the contractor’s supposed violations of engineering protocols that had cast doubts on the building’s integrity.
The oversight team from the DOH also failed to detect or curb shortcuts made in procurement that allegedly led to the use of substandard materials, or in some cases, the wrong sort of water and drain pipes installed in the new building, the documents showed.
Baguilat said provincial government and DOH officials, who attended last week’s public hearing, agreed to suspend the construction work “and organize a team of government and private sector experts to investigate and certify [whether] the hospital was structurally sound or not.”
It was not an easy decision, Baguilat said.
The new building was supposed to replace the old Ifugao General Hospital that was too worn down and dilapidated it needed to be shut down, he said.
Baguilat said the original tertiary hospital was also sitting on a geo-hazard area in Barangay Cudog and was ordered closed by Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
The provincial hospital has been operating on a provisional license that would expire in December unless it shows the government that it can function as a tertiary hospital in a new facility, Baguilat said.
The investigation should be completed within a month to give the government time to enforce remedies or employ alternative solutions before the hospital loses its license, he said.
In an Oct. 14 resolution, the Ifugao provincial board urged Gov. Denis Habawel to suspend work on the new hospital building on the request of Jonas Kinakin, Poblacion North barangay captain, who complained in August that a concrete gutter mounted by the contractor had collapsed.
Resolution No. 2013-58 cites testimonies from the provincial monitoring team and the board’s observations following a site inspection in September, when it enumerated 10 structural defects it wanted investigated by experts.
A report from the office of the provincial engineer also said “assorted lumber scraps, cement bag paper and boulders were discovered [to have been] used as part of the concrete filler” in one of the cement pouring sections on Oct. 5.
This was part of a list of violations allegedly made by the contractor in the course of work from March 5 to Oct. 8, which had also been posted online to support a change.org petition mounted by the Ifugao Cyberspace Watchdog.
The petition, which is addressed to Ona, Habawel and DOH Cordillera Director Valeriano Jesus Lopez Jr., calls for the suspension of work at the hospital.
“We do hereby declare in the strongest terms as unacceptable the substandard, defective and unsafe work outputs and condemn the irregularities and malpractice in the construction committed by the contractor, Granby Trading and Construction Inc.,” it says.
“We hereby deplore the … indifference of the authorities, both the provincial government of Ifugao and DOH [Cordillera office], in their refusal to take appropriate action even when the evidence of the contractor’s defective work outputs and malpractice were known to them, such as the actual collapse of a substantial portion of the concrete gutter and the imminent collapse of [its] other portions,” it adds. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon