BAGUIO CITY – Cordillera congressmen and local officials criticized concerned government agencies for continuously imposing national standards for the identification and implementation of projects in the different parts of the region which tend to affect the quality of the projects and the timeframe prescribed for the completion of the programmed projects.
Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baugilat, Jr. questioned public works officials for insisting that the project cost in the construction, repair, and upgrading of national roads and bridges in the lowlands is similar to the project cost of similar infrastructure projects being implemented in the region where the terrain is totally different, thus, the need to put additional cost for slope protection walls, drainage systems, among others, to guarantee that the projects will last the prescribed economic life.
Aside from the problem of infrastructure, Baguilat also cited the Forestry Code of the Philippines that prohibits areas with an elevation of 18 percent from being inhabited when the same scenario is not applicable in the Cordillera because most of the areas have elevation above 18 percent.
On his part, Kalinga Gov. Jocel C. Baac revealed there are numerous schoolbuildings in the remote areas of the province which were not implemented over the past several years although it was included in the budget of the education department because of insufficient funds to complete the said buildings.
He claimed no contractors are interested in bidding for the implementation of the schoolbuildings because of the absence of hauling and handling costs which are important because of the manual hauling required due to the terrain and lack of motor access of project sites to national roads.
Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang said the matter has already been brought to the attention of concerned public works officials wherein in the preparation of estimates for schoolbuildings, the project estimate for buildings along national roads should be different to that for schoolbuildings on top of the mountains to attract contractors to bid for the projects.
Mangaoang explained public works officials should make it a practice to consult with their technical personnel on the ground to be aware of the prevailing situation in the said places before preparing the appropriate estimates for their schoolbuilding projects to be funded in future budgets that will be passed by Congress.
Baac also questioned the public works department for imposing materials testing and quality control in the middle of project implementation making it difficult for the contractors to collect mobilization funds to complete their projects, citing that quality control testing should be done after the completion of the project and that whatever deficiencies of the project will be charged against the retention being withheld by the agency.
In the assignment of nurses, Janet Armas, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-CAR), claimed the national standard is one nurse for every 25,000 population that deprives the region more allocation for nurses and even medical doctors because of the sparser population but more difficult terrain.