(Features) DPWH reforms save PHL P8-B in 15 months, says Singson

April 6, 2012 9:10 pm 

By Bingo P. Dejaresco III

MANILA, April 4 — Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), heretofore one of the so-called flagships of corruption, saved P8 billion in just 15 months, said DPWH Secretary Rogelio Lazo Singson before the FINEX (Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines) at the Hotel Shangrila Makati last week.

It was “not one masterstroke but a series of reformed-based actions“ that resulted in such huge savings from January 2011 to March 2012.

Since past experience confirmed that the “tongpats” or the over price of most infrastructure projects was at least 30%, Singson ordered an automatic reduction in project standards by 10% at DPWH head office and ordered the same 10% slash at the regional levels.

The result was bidding offers even at times went 25% below the government standards.

“Hindi baling ma-delay, huwag lang manakaw” was a public mantra the embattled DPWH head proudly told businessmen.

He is to go one step higher and is on the way to make way for “electronic bidding” for one and all to see as they come in on the screens. Likewise, he dismantled the possible source for “illegal fees” by reducing the required bidding documents for public works projects from 20 to 5 — in cooperation with the Philippine Contractors Association.

DPWH now requires all regional offices for detailed engineering plans and programs of work for projects and assigned a third party to do the “quality assurance” other than those who were doing the “project inspection” job.

Heretofore, projects P50 million and below “can be approved by the 182 district engineers in the country. The nefarious practice in the past was to split the projects into P50-million “bite sizes” so as to be within the jurisdiction of the approving parties concerned.”

The DPWH has since stopped the disaggregated P50-million parts and even joined them with others in a cluster with a higher approval hierarchy. Sixteen regional engineers can approve P50 to P150-million worth of projects.

“This has caused the disqualification from bidding of small, unqualified bidders from doing large, serious projects, as a result”, the reformist secretary said.

“Now asphalted roads with either 280 or 230 millimeters” can be done at the same cost-generating huge savings.

Many road projects in the Philippines are known to be overpriced or below quality standards so that in a recent survey, the Philippines was ranked 11th among 12 Asian countries in terms of ”road quality” — eclipsing only Vietnam.

The “quality road leaders” were Singapore, Hongkong, Japan and Malaysia, in that order. Others ahead of the Philippines were Thailand, Taiwan and even Indonesia.

“Only 79% of national roads are paved and 30% of those badly need repairs”, Singson sighed in exasperation.

The DPWH top honcho also cited “lucky” districts who were able to get more than the traditional pork barrel for the congressional area of P70-million: Davao with P350 million, Camarines del Sur with P341 million and Sarangani of P210 million for three years past.


Singson, the UP industrial engineering graduate, targets all Philippine primary roads to be paved by 2014 and all secondary roads by 2016. All national bridges will also henceforth be made of steel and not wood.

Singson, also an MA graduate in Public and Business Management from De La Salle University proudly claimed that 80% of the infrastructure budget in his department had already been expended as early as the first quarter this year — an answer to criticisms of “under spending by government” last year.

He pitched hard for tourism who, Singson said, will get P5-billion in infrastructure budget allocation this year and another P10-12 billion in the Comprehensive Plan including airports. The targets are also well set for water management where the country is known to be only using 20% of water resources efficiently.

Water management targets for DPWH covers “flood control, use of small water impounding systems, and integrated water and river basin management”.

Singson aims to professionalize the DPWH department, utilizing his five-year experience as head of the Bases Conversion Development Authority and aims to partner with more NGOs, private enterprises and Civil society groups for better governance.

He advised LGUs to look at US$ 1.2-billion in available ODA funds (ADB, JICA and World Bank) for road upgrade and improvement.

Rogelio Singson hails from Vigan, Ilocos Sur and is married to Isabel Nepomuceno. (PNA) DCT/BBPD/utb


One Response to “(Features) DPWH reforms save PHL P8-B in 15 months, says Singson”

  1. richard on April 7th, 2012 2:47 pm

    sana po maisama ninyo sa programa ninyo yon mga daan sa barangay na papunta sa mga bukid. katulad nong sa barangay namin. simulapo ng magawa ito napabayaan na 20 years na pong nakalipas ngayon wala na yong kalsadang yon hindi mo na kit. ito ay matatagpuan sa pamunacan, manalongon, sta catalina negros orienta.