DPWH execs, contractor sued over ‘sinking’ flyover
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — At least four officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Western Visayas region and two officers of a project contractor are facing charges over the construction of a flyover that was closed to the public due to structural defects just 12 days after its full opening last year.
Councilor Plaridel Nava and former Councilor Eldrid Antiquiera filed separate complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman’s satellite office in Iloilo in relation to the construction of the Ungka flyover, which straddles Iloilo City and the neighboring town of Pavia.
“The closure of the Ungka flyover has caused enormous inconvenience to the public. Such inconvenience cannot be quantified by pecuniary estimation neither can it be reparable,” said Nava in his complaint filed on Monday.
“Worse than ever, the DPWH plans to allocate additional funding of at least P250 million for the repair of the flyover. This broad daylight robbery must be stopped and the guilty should be punished. Justice to the Ilonggo people must be served,” he added.
The Inquirer tried but failed to reach DPWH Western Visayas Director Nerie Bueno and Assistant Director Jose Al Fruto on Wednesday. An email sent to Bueno requesting a statement on the issue remained unanswered as of 4:30 p.m.
Bueno, Fruto, and other DPWH officials were also administratively charged with gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.
Other respondents were DPWH Western Visayas construction division officer in charge Ormel Santos, former director Tiburcio Canlas and several unidentified individuals “who directly participated or have conspired in the commission of the crime but whose names and other personal circumstances cannot be ascertained at this time.”
Also impleaded were Helen Edith Lee Tan and Allen Son Tan, president and registered owner, respectively, of International Builders Corp. (IBC), the firm that bagged the P680-million contract to build the flyover.
According to Nava, the IBC committed a “last-minute desperate attempt” to cover up the structural defects of the flyover by applying an asphalt overlay on the flyover and other engineering alternatives which were not part of the contract.
“These acts of intervention made by the contractor would simply validate the fact that the construction of the Ungka flyover is structurally defective. The last-ditch effort is a violation of the integrity pledge that the contractor covenants to faithfully observe during the construction stage of a government project,” Nava said.
Antiquiera on Tuesday filed another complaint asking Ombudsman Samuel Martires to conduct an independent investigation of the project.
Antiquiera, president of Grupo Konsumidor, a civil society organization on consumer rights advocacy, said the flyover mess involved consumer rights issues.
“Everyone who passes by the Ungka flyover is a consumer. They are commuters who consume goods and services in relation to transport. They come to … [Iloilo City] to buy what they want and need. It really affects their rights and interests,” he said.
The 453.7-meter Ungka flyover was partially opened to the public on June 30 last year.
More than two months later, on Sept. 6, the structure, which was funded through the efforts of former Sen. Franklin Drilon to cut travel time to the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town, was fully opened to commuters. But on Sept. 18, the DPWH closed the flyover after motorists complained about the “wavy feel” while driving through it, and amid reports and images of pools of water along the flyover during rainy days.
Structural engineer Adam Abinales, head of the third-party consultant hired by the DPWH, said the flyover needed engineering interventions that would take at least 10 months and would cost P250 million.