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House to probe delays in airport, seaport projects

MANILA, Philippines - The House committee on transportation and communications voted yesterday to look into delays in the implementation of airport and seaport projects in many parts of the country.

A motion presented by Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona prompted the inquiry.

Madrona, committee vice chairman; Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, committee chairman; and other members, including Reps. Winston Castelo of Quezon City, Benhur Salimbangon of Cebu and Pryde Henry Teves of Negros Oriental, complained that many projects of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) have either remained unimplemented or their implementation defective.

“In my province, the DOTC has an airport and a seaport project funded under the 2014 budget. The seaport has not been started. In the case of the airport, they have chosen a contractor in February, but up to now implementation has not commenced,” Madrona said.

He said the DOTC “obviously has low absorptive capacity” for project funding.

“Why should we allocate billions of taxpayers’ money to them for airports and seaports and improvement projects if they cannot use them?” he asked.

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Castelo lamented that DOTC “services have been deteriorating.”

“Six months ago, as chairman of the committee on Metro Manila development, I have been calling attention to the problems plaguing the MRT-3 (commuter system). At that time, they had 14 coaches running. Now, they are down to 8,” he said.

He said thousands of daily MRT passengers “are suffering because of the incompetence and inefficiency of those running the facility.”

Sarmiento said the backlog in DOTC project implementation goes back to 2013.

“There are projects that are still pending, though these have been funded under the 2013, 2014 and 2015 budgets. And soon, we will be discussing about 2016 projects,” he said.

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