Brothels thrive beside projects of ‘Daang Matuwid’
BROTHELS are rising near roads being repaired by the public works department—hardly the sort of projects one would associate with President Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid” (Righteous Path).
A surge in the number of road and bridge construction and rehabilitation projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has spawned the operation not just of videoke bars but of brothels and other sex establishments, according to reports reaching the DPWH.
The bad news has prompted Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson to warn that the DPWH “should not be used as platforms for trafficking in persons,” especially sex workers.
Singson has ordered the DPWH committee on gender and development to “develop a module that will contain antitrafficking in persons (TIP) concepts [and reflect] international and local standards.”
The module “shall be included in the committee’s tool kit for making road infrastructure projects gender-responsive,” according to Singson.
“The module aims to strengthen the DPWH’s drive toward a gender-sensitive organization with utmost consideration of the welfare of every individual affected by state infrastructure projects,” Singson added.
The DPWH is working closely with the US Millennium Challenge Corp. to develop the anti-TIP module, according to the DPWH public information division.
Sex motels an SOP?
A DPWH official who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to speak to media referred to the operation of sex establishments as an “SOP,” or standard operating procedure, in areas where road and other infrastructure projects are being built.
“Such practices have been going on for quite some time,” the source—a DPWH old-timer—said, quoting field personnel.
Another DPWH insider likened brothels to “those catering to US servicemen in former (American) military bases” at Clark Freeport in Pampanga province and the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales province.
The source expressed doubts if the DPWH could stop the proliferation of sex businesses in provinces building public works projects.
This year, at least P6.5 billion of the DPWH P401-billion budget allocation will go to the rehabilitation and upgrading of roads in 73 provinces.
The project, dubbed Kalsada—short for “Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran”—“aims to institutionalize good governance by shepherding local government units on local road management,” said a DPWH statement.
Under the scheme, provincial roads will be upgraded and transferred permanently to the provincial government, which will maintain them.
Projects on line
In the last two years of the current administration, the DPWH has prioritized “rehabilitation over preventive maintenance” of the country’s road network, which is valued at P1.2 trillion.
In a report, the DPWH said it would continue “improving the smoothness of national highways through improved construction, tighter supervision and quality assurance during the construction stage.”
Its other priorities include paving the remaining gravel and rough roads nationwide; replacing all timber and Bailey bridges with concrete or steel structures; better drainage along primary roads to protect road pavements; and improved flood control and other climate change adaptation measures.
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