Ping to DPWH: Settle right of way issues or face P16-B budget cut
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Monday blasted the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for undertaking road projects before settling right of way issues and implementing slope protection works, which could waste billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money.
These problems have hampered the completion of road projects, which then run the risk of becoming white elephants, Lacson said at the Senate hearing on the DPWH budget.
“I will be strict that the right of way issues must be settled before a project can be funded, in pursuance of Republic Act 10752 (Right-of-Way Act),” Lacson told reporters.
Amount restored in 2018
He warned that he would seek the deletion of some P16 billion from the 2019 DPWH budget for road projects that have unsettled right of way issues.
Lacson noted that in the 2018 budget, he had sought the removal the P50 billion funding for road works with such issues. But the amount was restored during the bicameral conference committee meeting.
The Right-of-Way Act, he said, requires the DPWH to first settle right of way problems before starting road projects.
“The law is clear that the right of way issues must be settled first, and all the [land] owners paid before the project is begun. When you do these things simultaneously, all these problems will crop up,” he said.
Permit from land owners
The DPWH begins road construction when they get permits to enter from the land owners, even before the government acquires the property, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar told the hearing, adding this is allowed.
But there are other problems that crop up during the construction that the DPWH could not anticipate, he said.
For the 2019 budget, he said, the DPWH would comply with the requirements under the law and would coordinate with Lacson to address his concerns.
Lacson noted that there was a landslide on one portion of the circumferential road project for the Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay areas in Benguet because of the lack of slope protection works before the construction was undertaken.
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