P33M Kalinga embankment, gravelling projects probed

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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Former Gov. Jocel C. Baac called on the economic cluster of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera and concerned government agencies to ascertain the viability of some P33 million worth of embankment and gravelling projects being undertaken by the provincial government long the Bulanao-Laya-Balong provincial road compared to the proposed put up of isolation centers to cater to the isolation requirements of the increasing number of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the province.

The ex-governor pointed at that during the onslaught of the COVID pandemic, provincial officials should look into the welfare of the people by prioritizing the construction of various isolation units in the different feasible sites so that confirmed patients will not be forced to undergo home isolation which will cause the possible outbreaks in the future due to their having infected their family members, relatives and neighbors.

He pointed out that had the provincial government used the funds to complete the children’s ward of the Kalinga Provincial Hospital, then it could have contributed in increasing the capacity of the health facility to attend to the isolation needs of the confirmed patients instead of them being threats to their families by being compelled to undergo home isolation.

He stated that his son who earlier tested positive of the deadly virus had a bad experience with the provincial government operated hospital who allegedly did not admit him because of the absence of sufficient beds, thus, he had to undergo hoe isolation.

Worst, the ex-governor disclosed that he had to immediately bring his wife who has co-morbidities to manila for her not to be infected by his son who was required to undergo home isolation and that he had to immediately come back from the long travel just to attend to his son’s need.

The ex-provincial official asserted that it is disheartening that the present batch of provincial officials re not mindful of the welfare of the people of Kalinga because they still pursued the realignment of the funds for embankment and gravelling because the same allegedly leads to the properties of one of them which could not be the case in this time of pandemic where the welfare of the majority of the populace should be primordial.

Earlier, Baac questioned his successor Gov. Ferdinand Tubban for the alleged realignment of multi-million development funds that were earlier identified by the previous administration as priority projects to projects that seem not to be urgent in the first place.

In his letter to the incumbent governor, Baac lamented the realignment of some P33 million earlier earmarked for the improvement of Bulanao-Laya-Balong Provincial Road for embankment materials with program concrete pavement of which P5 million intended for concrete pavement is now being converted to additional embankment.

Further, he also raised an uproar on the realignment of the P11 million earlier earmarked for the construction of the Magao-gao Bridge Phase 4 which was provided for concrete pavement of 45 meters on both approaches of the bridge for the gravelling and embankment.

The former governor also criticized the alleged non-provision of funds for the supposed completion of the children’s ward and wellness center which could have been used by the provincial government for the meantime as the isolation unit that was supposed to have been maximized during the prevalence of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to him, it is also evident in the current state that the province is facing that the response to the ongoing pandemic, especially in the availability of isolation units is allegedly lacking when in fact the Bayanihan Funds provided by the national government calls for utmost prioritization for the put up of additional isolation units in the various local governments around the country.

Baac opined that the realigned funds could have been better used to effectively and efficiently address the lack of isolation and quarantine facilities instead of embankment and gravelling.

In a related development, Assistant provincial Engineer Jude Dakiwag withdrew his signature on the change order submitted certifying the need to add more embankment work along the Bulanao-Dagupan-Laya-Balong Provincial Road, particularly Laya East and Laya East sections that earlier supported the request to eradicate the concrete program and instead reprogram it to embankment.

He pointed out that the embankment work that was implemented in the original program is more than enough, hence, additional embankment is no longer necessary.

Moreover, the engineer stated that there is need to continue the concrete work indicated in the original program as the same will contribute to achieving road safety and reliability including better and permanent access for the commuters.

“I am doing this to protect may career and to preserve the integrity of the office I represent that has been true to its worn duties and responsibilities,” Dakiwag steed in his letter addressed to Gov. Tubban. Dakiwag asserted that the moral obligation to do what is right will ensure that he will not be bothered by his conscience in case questions on the project will arise in the future.

The proposed additional embankment on the provincial road is allegedly intended to ease the access leading to the gasoline station owned by a still undisclosed provincial official to improve the business climate in the said area. By HENT

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