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Ping wants probe of bunkhouses

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Assistant on Recovery and Rehabilitation Panfilo Lacson urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to go after contractors of the bunkhouses that were damaged by Typhoon Ruby.

There were reports that several bunkhouses, which were constructed for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda that hit Eastern Visayas last year, were also damaged by Ruby, indicating contractors did not follow the “build back better” policy of the government.

“If I had my way, I could have filed criminal charges against those erring contractors on top of not compensating them,” Lacson told The STAR.

Shortly after President Aquino appointed him in December 2013, Lacson exposed and requested the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to investigate the substandard materials used by several contractors in constructing the bunkhouses.

“I did that in anticipation of the massive construction of permanent shelters for resettlement that has turned out to cost the government a total of P75 billion as per CRRP (Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan) compared to the P836,000 per bunkhouse unit,” Lacson added.

Lacson’s exposé prompted the DPWH not to pay the erring contractors, but no charges have been filed against them.

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Lacson also made a proposal to the Senate to amend the provision in the procurement law that allows the contractors to correct their mistakes, unintentional or otherwise, within a period of 90 days.

Lacson said the present provision should be amended and make sure contractors will ensure the integrity of their project from the start of the project.

DPWH Undersecretary for Regional Operations Romeo Momo said that the contractors of damaged bunkhouses could be asked to repair the structures smashed by the typhoon in Eastern Samar.

Momo, who is still in Bicol inspecting the damage caused by Ruby, said that they still have to check if the damaged bunkhouses were paid for by the government or were donated by private groups.

He said structures that were paid for by the government should be repaired by contractors for free.

DPWH Eastern Visayas regional director Rolando Asis said that only three out of the 251 bunkhouses erected in the entire region were damaged.

“The three damage bunkhouses were in Tacloban, their roofs were blown away. This was just an isolated case,” said Asis.

When asked if the damaged bunkhouses were constructed by contractors who were paid by the DPWH, Asis said he was not sure but recalled that the bunkhouses were built by Mindanao-based contractors. – With Evelyn Macairan, Jess Diaz

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