Palafox insists bunkhouses substandard but denies accusing execs of corruption
MANILA, Philippines — Architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr. said Wednesday that he wasn’t retracting his earlier statement that the bunkhouses for Supertyphoon “Yolanda’’ victims were substandard.
“I’m not retracting. Anyway you look at it, they’re substandard,’’ Palafox said by phone Wednesday afternoon. “I admit they’re substandard and undersized, and they are not fit for human habitation.’’
Palafox, however, said he was misquoted by another newspaper that made it appear that he accused officials of corruption and called for their arrest.
“In the light of some news that may make it appear I’m accusing the DPWH of corruption in the building of bunkhouses, I’d like to clarify that I didn’t make such accusations,’’ he said in a text message to Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
He forwarded the text to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Meanwhile, senators defended officials from criticisms that the bunkhouses were substandard and overpriced.
It was understandable for international organizations to assess the temporary shelters by international standards, but there was no law mandating Filipinos to follow these standards, Sen. Francis Escudero said.
“Whose standards? International standards? There’s no law that says we should follow international standards. We have our own standards,’’ Escudero said by phone.
It would be a different matter if the bunkhouses did not meet local standards, he added. He said he believed that Palafox made the observations of the bunkhouses based on international standards.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, vouched for the competence and integrity of Singson.
“I know for a fact that Secretary Singson would not stand for any shenanigans. He has shown zero tolerance for corruption since Day One in office. His integrity and competence is unassailable,’’ he said in a statement.
Under Singson’s watch, genuine reforms such as improved procurement procedures, and competitive and transparent bidding were carried out, he said.
Drilon cited the Department of Public Works and Highways’ strict adherence to the policy requiring the preparation of Program of Work with detailed estimates for each capital outlay, instead of indiscriminate releasing of project funds.
“The effective implementation of these reforms resulted in P16 billion savings which can be utilized for additional infrastructure projects,’’ he said.
Drilon said charges of overpricing in the construction of bunkhouses were counterproductive at a time “when DPWH’s attention is badly needed elsewhere.”
“In fact, the secretary’s recent offer to immediately resign if the allegations of overpricing are proven to be true is an admirable sign of class and character befitting a true public servant,’’ he said.
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