DPWH to firms: Don’t leave projects attacked by NPA rebs
TUGUEGARAO CITY—Contractors cannot just abandon unfinished road projects in the face of security threats, notably from the New People’s Army (NPA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) warned on Friday.
Jose Tobias Jr., chief of DPWH regional construction division, said the government must approve the suspension of projects, after contractors served notice they would shut down work in the wake of NPA attacks on three projects in Isabela, Quirino and Cagayan provinces this week.
“[Asking to terminate a project] is the option of contractors but we will still evaluate before they will be allowed to leave,” Tobias said.
On March 25, armed men believed to be NPA rebels robbed at gunpoint workers of RD Interior Construction stationed at the field office of an ongoing bridge project in Cabagan town in Isabela. They took away P88,000 as well as the workers’ mobile telephones.
On March 26, NPA rebels burned a backhoe excavator that was being used by the same firm for another bridge project at Barangay Ysmael in Maddela town in Quirino.
Later that day, six NPA rebels attacked the depot of Pulsar Construction Corp. in Barangay Baybayog in Alcala town in Cagayan and burned two backhoe excavators, a compactor and a mini truck that were being used for the ongoing repair of the Alcala-Baggao Road.
A statement released by the NPA’s Fortunato Camus Command operating in northern Luzon said the attacks were “punishments for the companies’ refusal to obey the laws” of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the NPA’s political arm.
The men who attacked the bridge project in Quirino were quoted as saying they torched heavy equipment because RD Interior Construction “refused to pay revolutionary taxes.”
Melanio Briosos, DPWH Cagayan Valley director, said the agency might allow a contractor to suspend work or discontinue a project if the security situation at the site warranted a work shutdown.
“We may just have to re-bid the project with the adjusted cost based on the aborted portion and the uncollected funds. Sadly, this will cause prolonged delay in the completion of government projects,” he said.
Project engineers, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said they were forced to discontinue over fears for the safety of their personnel.
“Many of our workers have left camp in haste and do not wish to go back anymore. Some of them even said they were quitting the job,” an engineer said.
But Army officials urged the DPWH and its contractors to resume work, saying the military and the police could protect them. —MELVIN GASCON
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