October 12, 2009
Mountain Province Exponent
Sub-ang, Bontoc, Mountain Province
This is in response to your column last October 4. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the additional information and valuable insights you accorded the public. It is interesting to note that in most likelihood insurance companies will take care the cost of the damaged equipments if the latter did not already put a cap on the limit of what they can pay what with the ongoing financial crisis that hit even the insurance institutions. Further, the incident would most likely be used as an excuse to delay further the implementation of the road project which has consistently incurred a negative slippage even before the incident. Lastly, the highly touted bullet-proof vest worn by the contractor whenever he visits his project sites is an indication that all is not well with his labor force and anyone who has an ax to grind against him.
It’s anybody’s guess who torched the equipments of RUA Construction Company. It may either be his competitors in the construction business; elements of the AFP/PNP/paramilitary units who take orders from generals who happen to have ties in the construction business; or units of the New People’s Army undertaking punitive action against abusive and corrupt businessmen entering their area of operation.
>From different sources we gathered that RUA’s SONA project along the Bontoc-Malitep section is 75% in progress although still incurring a negative slippage, while its contract at the Bontoc-Tucucan section along the Bontoc-Kalinga-Tuguegarao Road is incurring negative slippage beyond the allowable range. Why this is tolerated by the concerned agencies is another story. RUA Construction Company is having a hard time dealing with lot owners affected by its contract work while other adjacent contractors are progressing in their work proves that it is insensitive in handling land issues among the indigenous people. We gather further that the bully tactics and penchant for name dropping of the owner of RUA Construction Company does not sit well with affected lot owners.
As reported in the local news weeklies, the damaged equipment is only 1/6 of the total equipment of the company deployed hereabout. Moreover, even before the incident, work progress had been incurring a negative nine percent performance. Thus, it can not be said that the burning is a factor for a delay in the road project, as you feared.
Because of RUA’s supposed connections in the military and powerful backers in government, the contractor has been awarded SONA projects and has not been penalized for substandard work and delays beyond allowable limits. With considerable bloated government estimates for SONA projects, RUA’s equipment losses are just a dent on his marked up profits. But now, with the convenient excuse to delay some more, he escapes the penalties imposed on negative slippages.
While roads are essential to the masses, these can not just be built at the expense of the rights of those who are supposed to benefit. The contractor can not just go roughshod over the rights of lot owners affected by the road-right-of-way of his contract. It is foolhardy for any contractor to blindly follow the national government’s policy that treats Cordillera ancestral lands as just a resource base to be exploited without regard for the huge labor investment put in by the village folk. Thus, it stands to reason that a reasonable compensation must be paid to the people. Bully tactics and name dropping are insensitive and insulting and could only lead to total rejection. Surely, any well-meaning and sincere negotiation with lot owners will yield reasonable agreements.
The recent calamity highlights a serious point: SONA projects were not built to last, but serve as temporary showcases for cosmetic and election purposes. The public has already suffered from substandard roads and road right-of-way bullying. Damage has already been done when contractors, RUA included, delayed the Phase l and Phase ll and the ongoing Phase lll multi-billion SONA projects by more than a year despite being awash in public funds. The initial strict adherence to project specifications by the DPWH spearheaded by no less than Gen. Ebdane is now exposed as nothing but pakitang-tao. Not one contractor heeded the “Remove and Replace” markings of the multi-agency task force that investigated the anomalies linked to the SONA projects. Not one among the notorious contractors, including RUA Construction Company, incurring negative slippage beyond the allowable limits was ever issued termination on their contract. Matters are always settled under the table.
It is moot who burned the RUA equipment for DPWH corruption has caused greater damage to the public by awarding lucrative infrastructure deals to favorite yet non-delivering contractors. Reasonable delays are tolerable but substandard concrete pavement that show ugly defects after a few years are an insult to the poor Filipino masses who will be paying for the huge foreign debt incurred for the project.
Rest assured that the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front and New People’s Army always have the public’s welfare and interests at heart when they watch over publicly-funded infrastructure projects.
(Sgd.) Simon Naogsan
Spokesperson, Cordillera People’s Democratic Front