Right on the Mark

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato - The Philippine Star

(Second of two parts)

Although he has done so without much fanfare, Sec. Mark has contributed significantly to Philippine education by leading the construction of 144,925 classrooms and 2,036 school workshop buildings. He has likewise played a key role in food security, teaming up with other government agencies to help farmers with oversupply get to where they need to be, through the construction of 5,555 bridges and 3,859 kilometers of farm-to-market roads. These projects created over six and a half million jobs across the country through his tenure as the DPWH Secretary, with a million and a half jobs taking place during the global pandemic. Knowing the average family size of people in the Philippines, we can safely assume that those jobs put food on the tables of at least 20 million people.

It has been said that the best public servants are never born, but rather, are honed by overcoming adversities through a focused desire to achieve the greater good. I have seen that Sec. Mark is among the few brave leaders who are currently risking their health to help the country fight the pandemic. Throughout the Philippines, facilities are in full production for the isolation and treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 infection. With the hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of COVID-19 patients, the DPWH led other government agencies and partnered with the private sector to construct quarantine sites to house the asymptomatic and mild cases.

As of publication time, 635 COVID-19 isolation facilities with 23,241 beds have been completed. Extensions for level 3 hospitals were put up using fabricated components  for patients exhibiting moderate to severe symptoms. Additional beds were added to the health care system in Metro Manila, with pop-up hospitals such as that in the Quezon Institute compound with 110 beds, among others.

Sec. Mark was also quick to act on corruption controversies that have dogged the DPWH since time immemorial. As part of his anti-corruption drive, he reshuffled 65 district engineers, relieved 12 others from posts, and blacklisted more than 20 contractors involved in anomalous transactions. Incidentally, it is noteworthy that the blacklist includes the previous-biggest contractor of the DPWH. I suppose it took someone like Sec. Mark to shake things up; indeed, how can you bribe or coerce a billionaire with integrity?


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