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DPWH info on watchtower fund source âconflictingâ
The Department of Public Works and Highways has issued conflicting statements as to the source of funding for the construction of two watchtowers in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island.

DPWH info on watchtower fund source ‘conflicting’

Gregg M. Rubio (The Freeman) - April 11, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Is it from government coffers or from a private individual’s donation?

The Department of Public Works and Highways has issued conflicting statements as to the source of funding for the construction of two watchtowers in Santa Fe, Bantayan Island.

Local officials of Santa Fe town earlier raised concern over the project after two municipal roads leading to the beach front were closed without their knowledge.

In an interview over DRYF’s Tug-ani Ang Lungsod Program, Engr. Susan Ornopia, acting head of the First District Engineering Office where Santa Fe belongs, said that the project is funded by the DPWH Regional Office 7.

Ornopia earlier said that the DEO was not aware of the said project.

After a clarificatory meeting with town officials, Ornopia said it was found out that the Department of Tourism, the project proponent, properly coordinated with the DPWH regional office and the LGU under its convergence program without passing through the DEO.

“We were informed that it was properly coordinated sa LGU with regional office,” Ornopia said.

Ornopia further said that it was the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas who facilitated the presentation of the project.

In the same radio interview, DPWH-7 Director Edgar Tabacon said the project is one of the many improvements in Santa Fe, along with the widening of roads leading to tourism sites.

Tabacon said that aside from the proposed two watchtowers, more are expected to be built all over the island purposely for navigational aid.

However, contrary to Ornopia’s claim, Tabacon said the funding for the watchtowers in Santa Fe came from a private donor, though he did not name the person or entity.

He did not also disclose the amount of the donation.

“Naa na siyay donor, katong nagbutang sa tarpaulin,” Tabacon said.

Ornopia earlier disowned the tarpaulins mounted at the project site saying that these were not the DPWH standard.

While no public fund was involved in the said project, Tabacon said the DPWH was just asked if it could supervise the project that is being undertaken by JFAP Construction.

The two watchtowers will stand on both sides of Budyong Beach, which was allegedly bought last year by a high-ranking government official in the Visayas for around P150 million.

Councilor Jayson Repaso, a lawyer, said the project is illegal for failure to comply with the existing laws and jurisprudence.

Citing the Local Government Code, Repaso said two requisites must concur before a national project that affects the environment and ecological balance of local communities can be implemented.

These include prior consultation with the affected local communities, and prior approval of the project by the appropriate Sangguniang Bayan. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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