One of the identified drivers of economic growth in the countryside is infrastructure development or the building of roads that will inter-connect remote villages to developed rural areas. Many administrations heavily invested in the buildings of roads and bridges in order to make people in the rural areas feel the presence of government. With good roads, people in remote communities will have greater access to basic services, such as education, health among others, which are provided them by both the concerned national government agencies and complimented by local governments. It has been time and again stated that people will better access to basic services are far more productive than those living in the remote communities who are often times deprived of such services that lead to their untimely demise.
The present administration embarked on a comprehensive infrastructure program over the past five years that significantly contributed to the improvement of accessibility in the countryside which the people had long been aspiring for. Hundreds of billions of pesos we4re allocated from the annual national budget primarily to build major roads and bridges inter-connecting remote villages in the rural areas of the archipelago. While it is true that the current administration was instrumental in the rehabilitation and upgrading of major inter-municipal- inter-city, inter-provincial and inter-regional roads, ordinary observers still have a lot to say on the absence of an overall infrastructure development plan that would have outlined the priority works to be done on roads and bridges before moving to the development of other similar infrastructure in the different parts of the nation.
Some critics believe that the quality of works of most public works contractors are sub-standard because most of the projects are already scoured even if the one-year warranty period has not yet lapsed. Ordinary citizens claim that officials of the concerned government agency lack the common sense in the prioritization of works on roads utilizing limited funds because they allow the concreting works to be first done, then allow the same pavement to be cut by utility companies or again dug up because the appropriate drainage system has not been put in place. Other critics believe that the reason for poor quality projects now is because of the rampant corruption involved from the concerned lawmakers down to the ordinary inspectors and auditors of concerned government agencies that is why contractors are forced to use underrated mixtures of concrete and other constructi9on materials just to raise what some politicians describe as ‘obligasyon’ to them among others. Indeed, many people are dissatisfied over how government projects are being done because they are the ones that directly suffer the consequences of such simultaneous diggings around our narrow roads such as tremendous traffic congestions, air and noise pollution among others. Many believe that most of today’s politicians have became greedy in demanding for the ‘grease money’ from nationally funded projects because they no longer enjoy the perks of the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The existence of numerous infrastructure projects in our respective places does not guarantee optimum economic growth because people are the ones that suffer the consequences of substandard works of profit-oriented project implementors.
We firmly believe that with the proper holistic planning of projects coupled with the close coordination of government agencies and local governments, priority works on our roads, such as the putting in place to a descent drainage system, sidewalks, signages among others should be prioritized before the full-blown concreting works so that such projects will not be unduly disturbed. We also believe that if the right type of contractor will be the ones to implement major infrastructure works, people will not be made to suffer what we are currently carrying as a burden right now. Diggings left and right of the city have made life miserable. Worst, the contractors that were chosen to obviously manipulated bidding procedures are not supposed to be the ones that should implement such critical works because of their bad records in handling previous projects. We shou7ld also understand that there are proper procedures in the workmanship of projects that is why responsible contractors are being criticized by the public but irresponsible ones are still being favored by concerned government agencies and their benefactors who claim to have lobbied for such funds to be downloaded to the locality.
We regret to disagree to the current practice of the lowest bidder being always declared the complying and responsive bidder. In fact, we are aware of a number of contractors who simply dive their bids way below the agency estimate just to win the project and then the bad practice is that they make it a habit to request for change orders to utilize the savings to save them from being declared with slippages. The Commission on Audit (COA) should always be vigilant against such kind of contractors because they are the ones that are considered the bad eggs in the highly competitive and lucrative industry that made several individuals multi-billionaires through the use of their saliva even without sufficient investments as a public works contractor.