More intrigues in Marawi than relieving acts

Punchline

With Ali G. Macabalang

One of thousands of stakeholders in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the war-torn Marawi City sent me a feeler this week containing some nagging questions on controversial programming of P2.3 road projects in the city’s Most Affected Area (MAA).

It showed that last April, some P1.9-billion was released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the National Housing Authority (NHA), a member-agency of the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM), to build primary and secondary road along the MAA with solar lamp posts and other related utilities.

 Stakeholders asked: “Is the NHA going to implement the road projects, not the DPWH?

The feeler also showed that the NHA announced last June 5 in the PhilGEPS website two projects to undergo public bidding on July 2. Stakeholders questioned the short period between the announcement and the bidding date, saying it deprived contractors (not favored by NHA) the chance to prepare the corresponding designs and participate in the bidding.

It said one of the projects cost P1.7B while the other is worth P671-million for a total of P2.3-billion.

Stakeholders argued that “no Filipino contractor can prepare the design in less than a month time, especially for MAA areas where road rights of way (ROW) issues are a problem.”

They claimed that the NHA procedures were allegedly meant to “discourage prospective contractors to participate (in the bidding), especially when the NHA required a contractor to have experience on unexploded ordnance clearing and debris management. They said the imposed requirement is not an element in regular infra projects’ bidding.

“We suspect that the projects are tailored for ‘favored’ contractor like the Edd Mari Construction of Pampanga, which contracted the P2.2-billion debris management and clearing project for 250 hectares in the MAA. We wondered why the Edd Mari was qualified (for the project) when it has no experience in debris management and P1.1-billion SLA, per PCAB records,” the stakeholders’ feeler said.

“We learned that only around 50 hectares (in MAA) were cleared but all the P2.2-B fund was exhausted,” lamented the stakeholders.

I guess that what was conveyed to this column about the rehab efforts in Marawi was just the tip of ice berg.

A reliable source from a family related to the President had earlier tipped this writer about the controversial purchase without bidding of some units of bulldozer worth million of pesos at the behest of TFBM leadership.

Unscrupulous pilferage of metal scraps, purchase at low price of abandoned lots for sale on higher prices by a local politico to interested parties desiring to building housing units for IDPs are also issues that remained unexplained.

Meantime, the Palace and its spokespersons have remained silent about the state of Marawi rehab, which the public got frustrated with when not mentioned in the recent 5th SONA of the President.

This writer had made representations to concerned officials in the Palace to make even a brief announcement on the issue, but the efforts remained in vain. I can only sigh the old saying that “what is not talked about is disregarded.”  ALI G. MACABALANG

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