Home > Uncategorized > A Notice to the Public: Baguio City Road Construction

A Notice to the Public: Baguio City Road Construction

by Shiela May Aballa, Shekinah Angiwan, and Kimiyo Meadows

The Department of Public Works and Highways – Baguio City District Engineer’s Office (DPWH- BCDEO) stands by three principles:

(1) Right Cost – reasonable and fair budget allocation
(2) Right Project – constructions, rehabilitation and improvement where most needed
(3) Right Quality – durable and safe roads

Right Quality: Complaints on Road Construction

Salamat DPWH – Baguio is new “bungkal city” of the Philippines – Instead of the official page of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Baguio, this page is the first to appear if you search for “DPWH Baguio” on Facebook.

There are only two posts on this page. The first one is by Mark Anthony Molina. On August 27, 2011, he wrote:

can i know who is the officer in charge of the DPWH baguio!!! because last night i have accident i was running 20kph with my motor then suddenly i struck a gap on the road it is deep now my motor and my self flown away on the road my question is why do the DPWH construct a gap on the road and didnt coverd with cement that gap on the road is located at burnham road infront of ganza restaurant im the 3rd motorist who got accident in that area im lucky to survive and only minor bruises on my body is what ive got!!! can the damn DPWH fix that road u make people die!!!! im concern not only i got accident but im concern to my fellow motorist who are riding in that area!!!! baguio is on heavy traffic ryt now because of construction everywhere why do DPWH construct it on rainy season and during class season why dont they do it on summer times where baguio is not totally populated!!! WHY DPWH i need an answer!!! freaking road construction!!!

The DPWH is the first government agency that comes to mind when the topic is road construction. This is typical because the word “highways” is in the name and a responsibility of the department. But does this department accommodate complaints such as Molina’s?

Baguio City District Engineer Ireneo Gallato explained that many complaints were addressed to their department, but actually some complaints were not in their area of responsibility. Engineer Gallato clarified that their office’s concern is only the national roads in Baguio City. The Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) is not responsible for the complaints about the local roads, so not all traffic-related problems are their fault.

Engineer Gallato claims that they receive a lot of complaints, but when asked for the records of complaints, he said that they require a formal letter. Assistant District Engineer Romelda Bangasan did not show any record of complaints either, but she offered copies of the procedural response to complaints. The same reply can be found in local newspapers, they said.

When a taxi driver, who asked to remain anonymous, was asked to comment on the road construction in Baguio, he said that negative feedback is pervasive because of traffic and repetitive and simultaneous construction of the roads. He added that although they are upset, they cannot do anything about it. BCDEO claimed that they inform relevant agencies, like transportation offices such as the Traffic Management Branch (TMB), before a project is implemented, but the public utility drivers are not aware of this. The drivers also said that even if they were informed, it would still be an inconvenience.

Most of the time, “nagkikibit-balikat na lang kami,” one of the taxi drivers said. They passively live and work with what the higher offices implement.

“Paulit-ulit ginagawa ang Bokawkawan, halos yearly. Pero sabi ng engineer na kakilala ko, ‘pag concrete, tumatagal naman nang more than 10 years,” said another taxi driver. It is all about money because there are millions in the roads, he added.

BCDEO explains that they use a machine, Highway Development Management (HDM-4) System, to examine the roads and they base potential and ongoing projects on the results of the database. The treatment of the road depends on the level of damage to the road. Some roads need only a concrete or asphalt overlay. Others must be reconstructed completely.

One of the projects of the BCDEO for 2012 is to rehabilitate the bus terminal on Governor Pack Road. To accomplish this, the bus terminal will have to be transferred temporarily to the vacant lot beside Baguio Convention Center. One taxi driver said that the space in that vacant lot is not enough to use as a bus terminal and as far as he knows, that lot is property of another government agency.

Despite the criticisms that DPWH, especially BCDEO, faces, they still receive positive feedback. For example, Ayra Batore Laguitao’s post in the previously mentioned Salamat DPWH Facebook page from August 21, 2011, says “Please know first d reason behind it.” In addition to this, a taxi driver praised the contractor of the Marcos Highway project for finishing earlier than expected. He added that Marcos Highway is better now than before.

Many of the citizen’s complaints should not be directed to DPWH-Baguio. The residents and drivers are at fault as well in assuming that the DPWH is simply not doing its job.

Right Project: The Road Construction Process

When the public hears ‘DPWH’, they immediately think of Photoshop and shame, incompetence, and most of all, inconvenience. For the people of Baguio especially, because of the simultaneous road constructions during the rainy season, 2011 was both challenging and frustrating, resulting in what may have been maximum inconvenience for the travelling public. This is a fact, but maybe it’s time we understand the process involved in road construction, and maybe it might result in lenience for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) if it happens again.

The DPWH operates on national roads only. To most of the public, as long as it is a road construction, DPWH is behind it. But actually, the local roads are handled by the local government, under the City Engineer’s Office, with a totally separate process and budget.

DPWH gets its budget from the Regular Infrastructure Fund, which is supposed to be released at the start of the year. Last year, the Baguio City District Engineer’s Office (BCDEO) received a lot of complaints concerning the simultaneous road constructions conducted by DPWH-Baguio. The road constructions that were most disruptive, being simultaneous and in close proximity to each other, were on Bokawkan Road, Ferguson Road, and Quezon Hill Road. Not only were the road constructions simultaneous in the busiest parts of the city, they started the road constructions in June, which is the start of classes, and also the start of the rainy season.

There were articles about the typhoons delaying the road constructions, but then why start the road constructions at a time that is known to be prone to strong rains and typhoons? For last year, the problem lies in the release of the budget. The DPWH budget for 2011 was released in March, instead of January. According to Baguio City District Engineer Ireneo Gallato, it takes up to two months to finish processing all the papers required to start the road constructions. It is easy to put the blame on the national level, but Gallato and his office acknowledge that they were at fault as well.

DPWH had 10 projects in Baguio City last year. They were two projects at Magsaysay Avenue, Quirino Highway, Major Mane Road, Outlook Drive, Ferguson Road, two projects at Loakan Road, Bokawkan Road, and Quezon Hill Road. They have all been completed by the end of last year. Compared to last year, the minimum inconvenience and speed with which the road constructions this year have been finished is commendable. DPWH has 18 projects in Baguio City for 2012. They are the roads along the stretch of Abanao Road, Kayang Street, Harrison Road 1, Governor Pack Road, Government Center Road, Leonard Wood Road, and Marcos Highway. By February, seven road projects have already been completed. What made the difference between this year and the last?

Road construction is not an easy job. It is a long process and is never appreciated by the travelling public while it is ongoing, sometimes even after. Aside from allocating budget, DPWH has to do a public bidding for the contractors, and once a contractor has won the bid, they need a month for implementation, which requires testing the road and processing the contract and other papers.

Road constructions this year started in January. Some of the ongoing projects have been delayed due to the Panagbenga Festival and the anticipation of graduation, but unlike last year, DPWH was very much prepared for 2012 because of so much negative feedback from the travelling public. As early as November 2011, they conducted detailed engineering pre-construction activities, where they identified the projects that have to be done for 2012. In December 2011, they had already finished the papers for pre-construction, advertisement, notice of award, and notice to proceed. So come January 2012, when the budget was released, they started immediately.

DPWH can also be commended for the informational boards that they have put up at the sites of ongoing and impending road constructions. Now, not only do the public know the budget for the road construction, they also know who the contractor is, where the road construction starts and ends and how long the project might take. Apparently, the road signs and traffic signals are part of the budget given to the contractors, so the public can make a formal complaint if the site lacks these.

So why do we only now notice the effort that DPWH is making? While the road constructions are ongoing, DPWH gets so much negative feedback, but after the roads are done, they get practically no praise. DPWH has done a lot for our city. It cannot be denied that they could have done so much better last year, but it is apparent that they quickly learned from that and recovered. For example, they anticipated how their projects would affect traffic, so they finished the smaller constructions before the Panagbenga Festival. All that’s left now are their projects in Governor Pack Road, Abanao Extension, Chanum Street, Kayang Extension, Kisad Road, A. Bonifacio Road, two projects in Quirino Highway, M. Roxas Road, PMA Cut-off Road 1, and PMA Road.

If DPWH-Baguio can do it fast and with less inconvenience, why did they not do it that way in the first place? There are other factors that affect their efficiency. Some of them are: they do not control the release of the budget, or sometimes the contractors have to re-bid because they cannot comply with the government’s requirements, or there might be some unforeseen complications like the soil eroding or a sewage breaking, or sometimes the problem lies with the contractors, like if they lack materials or manpower.

Speed and minimum inconvenience may have developed late on the part of DPWH-Baguio, but as the saying goes, it’s better late than later.

Right Cost: Budget Allocation

The concerned public often asks, “Where do our taxes go?” This is justified by the fact that funds for government projects are partly comprised of citizens’ taxes, and naturally, these citizens want reassurance that they will get their money’s worth. In the case of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), budget allocation is a matter given much serious consideration.

In the year 2011, the budget allotted to the DPWH amounted to Php 208 million. This year saw an increase of Php 3 million, bringing the total up to Php 211 million. The sum of money that the department receives yearly is based on a proposed amount from the central office of DPWH, but the amount given will not necessarily match the proposal. Ultimately, the decision comes down to whether as much as is being asked is actually needed, based on the gravity and number of projects the department will undertake and the inflation of costs of raw materials and equipment.

How, then, is the money actually spent? For each project of the DPWH, a contractor must commit and sign an official contract before beginning actual road work. Contractors are not randomly chosen but enjoined in a bidding process for the project. The DPWH aims for the lowest price of labor and materials without sacrificing the quality (especially for safety and longevity) of road work. Once bidding is finished, the project is awarded to the winning contractor and the manual labor can begin. In sum, pre-construction activities take only one month.

For the year 2012, Engineer Gallato said, “We are allowed to conduct a pre-detailed engineering … as long [as] naidentified na ang project …. Last 2011 … I think that was October, we started the detailed engineering of this project, and … by the end of December, almost all our projects, natapos na ang bidding. Ready for implementation. Hintayin lang namin ‘yong pagdating ng pondo, ‘tsaka namin inaward dahil hindi kami pwede magaward ng project sa contractor kung wala pa ‘yong pondo.”

In the interest of the public who will use these roads, the payment for the contractor is withheld until the project is completely finished. However, if there is a lack of materials, the contractor may ask for partial payment in order to continue working without interruption. Complete materials and equipment of good quality are also important to road quality, hence the allowance of partial advance.

Another scenario in which the payment might be docked is if the team does not finish the job on time. Because of the urgency of their task, they may be asked for liquidated damages if they exceed the deadline agreed upon. The amount deducted depends on the contract. This is also the protocol for any other shows of poor performance. Contractors must rectify unsatisfactory jobs at their own expense.
Once the project is completely done, the contractor is asked to submit an accomplishment report to the Department of Budget Management for billing. This must include the statement for work and other supporting documents. Given that there are no discrepancies or any kind of problem with the paperwork, the full payment will be released 20 to 25 working days after submission. Savings from DPWH projects are utilized for the continuation of still ongoing projects or starting of new ones.

It is not commonly known that the DPWH-BCDEO is responsible only for national roads. Hence, not all road constructions going on in the city are under their command. Their efforts and funds are dedicated only to national roads. Any construction on roads besides national roads is the work of local government: the City Engineering Office (CEO). Both offices manage road construction, but because of the differentiation, the budget of the DPWH-BCDEO is separate from that of the CEO. Each agency also has its own set of officials and, depending on its scope, its own projects.

  1. March 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    well-written article. i wonder kung ganyan din ang sistema ng paggawa ng kalsada sa amin.

  2. March 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    thanks for enlightening us. haha. should i say sorry to dpwh?😀

  3. Joffrey Dela Cruz
    March 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Baguio is a small city to consider, very small, and yet many issues concerning the government’s effectivity are surfacing. My question here is “Why?”

    Road construction issues are always present. You’re promoting tourism here at Baguio, but how can tourists arrive at Baguio if roads are not constructed appropriately? Or should I say timely? Let this report be an eye-opener to all government agencies out there. Don’t let such reports minimize your value as public servants.

  4. Yean
    March 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    This will be to enlighten every residence in Baguio. Well done article.🙂

  5. March 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Informative. Brief. And enlightening. Good job.😀

  6. Vince
    March 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    so this is what was happening. wow! learned a lot!

  7. PST
    March 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Strip this article off of its technicality, the bottom line is, inefficiency is rampant in sectors of public office, government agencies do not get things done, putting the lives of the very people they serve in jeopardy.

  8. March 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Well, this is something very personal to me ¿no? since this type of problems with regards to road constructions is nationwide, I believe, and it really puts to me to my boiling point as it causes me a lot of damage and embarrassment. But I don’t wanna say much details about how flushed I am with rage when it comes to this issue since I don’t want to mess this page up with fiery words. I just want to call the attention of the “honourable” local officials and ask how do they really make plans for road constructions and “rehabilitation” (or should I say annihilation?). I mean, ok, one day you’re working on it, then after a month or two after finishing the project, what? Roads are being constructed again? I mean, por Dios y por Santo, ¡Por favor! What is that? Do you sinvergüenzas consider it as a hobby???!!! It seems to me that you are just using those road rehabilitation project as a front so you can STEAL the money, the budget allotted to it. FRUGALITY + CORRUPTION = GRRR!!!… Baguio is one of the top tourists destinations in the country, and a city at the mountain where landslides are very frequent. Can you really set aside the danger that lies ahead for the motorists just for your own bolsa de Taning? It’s not just about tourism this time, but also the lives of the people, their safety, to which you are culpable if something improper or adverse happens to anyone! Not to mention the extreme inconvenience, and cantankerousness that it causes huh. I know this is, for now, an accusation but ¡maldita sea!, you cannot blame the public for reacting this way.

    To the local officials or to whom it may concern (excuse letter lang? hehehe), escuchame bien chingaderos de mierda, if you scoundrels want to be respected and trusted by your people, then at least show that you really deserve it by executing your job slash responsibilities slash “privilege” as PUBLIC SERVANTS way better than you intend to or expected form you, ¿¡por favor!?
    ¡Ay, qué barbaridad! >:|

    Anyway, congratulations to the researchers for this report. This is a tap to the shoulders of the officers-in-charge. I just hope they listen now.🙂

    ¿Kapé?

  9. Dwayne
    March 13, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I did experienced all of these inconvenience due to road constructions last year and I have to agree, the DPWH-BCDEO is doing much better now compare to last year. I just hope that they keep up the good work and improve more.

    Well written article. Thank you for informing us about the whole road construction issue in Baguio City.🙂

  10. grace maniego
    March 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    The fact about it is no one enjoys the traffic jam that it will create once it starts but it is a necessity. But there are things that I wanted to give emphasis;
    The DPWH:
    The public prejudice the government official not in rare moments…but where do this unjust criticism coming from? It was not something that came out of nowhere. The public has seen so much and already suffered a lot from many occasions when the government was actually “lacking” in their performance. It is true that it is unjust to judge the DPWH officials base on what you see on the outside and what you hear from others but where can the public get the information they need? Maybe if the public knows what is going on the “inside” maybe they can truly appreciate the effort that the government is providing.
    The Public:
    Road construction is very crucial not to the “pockets” of the government officials but to “us”. Every day we travel, we go places. The main concern of it is to make sure that we are safe in doing the things that we have to do and in going to places that we have to go. Transportation is one of the things that can uplift a certain city, the better the transportation the better the flow of transactions. If we really wanted to better our government ways we should ask questions, not judge. A road project is different from another road project. Maybe we saw terrible road construction before but that does not mean it’s going to be the same.

    • grace maniego
      March 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      The Writer
      I’ve seen a touch of “maturity” when they discussed the subject. It is how a report should be, not only looking at one side of the picture but digging deep, beyond what our naked eye can see. They do not try to pursue the readers to simply believe in what they are saying, it is supported by facts. What can be seen on the outside aligning on what is truly happening inside. If every report about what was happening in our country will be written this way no one will point finger to one another. The report do not wish to down size the effort of the government. It was not simply giving information to the public. Information that they very much need.

  11. Anthony
    March 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Man, DPWH-BCDEO or whoever is in charge needs to go back to their safety engineering101. Road constructions are really annoying that is why they really need to do it fast and effective at the same time. Great article.

    P.S. I just overheard TV Patrol reporting an issue about an overpass without handrails somewhere in Baguio City.

  12. March 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I live in Manila and I don’t really visit Baguio often so I have no way to monitor the performance of DPWH-BCDEO. Reading this article gave me a small insight on how are things going on the roads of Baguio. Seeing that there are still complains about road construction deficiency, which in the case of the complainant in the article was simple to solve, I could say that things may be just as bad there as in Manila. Never mind the complains of the public transportation drivers because they are in the road all day, but the fact that the roads can’t cater the public commuters’ needs, I would like to wish then that they do a better job. Then again, I can’t speak in general about BCDEO’s performance because I don’t live there, but I can empathize with the complainants because I am a public commuter myself and I happen to experience various kinds of inconvenience on the road and complicated my ‘commuting life’ very much. I commend their efforts for pre-security measures during construction though. I have no qualms with traffic jams during constuction, but it’s a part of the process, what can they do. I would just like them to address other ‘post-inconveniences’ as much as possible, besides it’s still the road they built, it’s still a part of their job.

    Things are worse here in Manila, trust me, so I just wish, the 18 projects the DPWH promised to do this year, I hope they do it good, and thoroughly. I wish they really had learned their lesson.

    This article is very well-done and informative. It helped me in my understanding of the government’s processes in the provincial level. Thank you.

  13. Shane Garcia
    March 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Very informative indeed. This will serve as an eye-opener to everyone especially to the DPWH. This is a big blow to them. Feel sorry for the residents who experienced this kind of treatment from the government. Goodluck to all the people behind this. Job well done for the writers!

    Note: I would like to see more pictures of evidence.🙂

  14. edison
    March 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    dapat po padaliin yung mga road construction dito po sa baguio para po maiwasan ang mga road accidents na kaganapan..,

  15. zennad
    March 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    it’s good that the other side of the story has been heard. I believe the DPWH should be thankful for that, especially that they won’t always find the opportunity to defend/explain their side. nonetheless, there was still something that struck me lightly that made me think maybe they are just not doing enough. I mean, yes there has been an upgrade in the efficiency of road constructions, I could see that even here in Manila. but with what Mr. Mark Molina said, I could say that they lacked in precaution signs. if there were warnings, Mr. Molina should’ve seen it and have avoided the ‘road gap’ he was pertaining to. He said he was running on 20kph and that’s quite a slow pace.

    I don’t know. If DPWH is doing it’s job, things like that shouldn’t be really happening, isn’t it? and people should be complaining less. yes?

  16. ern garcia
    March 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    This is how DPWH private road contractors operate at the countryside. Determined to keep their pockets in tip-top-shape…there’s no better than to maintain their indiscreet operations of tearing down span of concrete roads Regardless of conditions. Do some simple road observation as you pass by…and in a matter of hours…the road you’ve just traveled down..Magically transformed into a stretch of rubble.🙂

  17. March 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    i don’t know much about their issues. but all i can say is, it’s a political propaganda. the road in loakan continuously gets “repaired” every 6 months. and now, kisad road’s getting one too. these roads are still good as far as i can see. maybe baguio is very rich and their government do not know where to waste them money ;D

    good article❤

  18. Elaine
    March 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    The accomplishment report of the contractors even their supporting documents should be carefully scrutinize. Truly, this article is very informative.🙂

  19. Dyane
    March 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    this is a must read article! well done!🙂

  20. krung krung
    March 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    very informative! good article!

  21. March 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    All the questions on my mind are answered in this article. Good job, writers! 🙂

  22. Diane
    March 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    this article is very enlightening. The road constructions here in Baguio is literally and figuratively a bump to every motorist. The concerned officials should do their job better.

  23. juvy lee
    March 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    informative. two thumbs up:)

  24. March 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Interesting article. Also very informative. Especially the emphasis on the fact that DPWH operates on national roads only. I really thought that they are responsible for all road constructions in the city.
    On the other hand, the authors wrote: “While the road constructions are ongoing, DPWH gets so much negative feedback, but after the roads are done, they get practically no praise.” To this I disagree. They don’t get praised because sometimes, even if the road construction went smoothly and ahead of time, it is in the changes they made that are problematic.
    Still, it’s a good article! Thank you for the info! :))

  25. March 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    After the scandal of the edited picture that I’ve seen around, this article gave justice to DPWH. I often read about government agencies in a negative way, and this makes much difference. It made me see the good side of the agency.

    It has been a long time since I’ve been to Baguio, and in my last trip there was actually troublesome, because of road construction. So I can imagine what it is like nowadays. I hope people would have to realize that in order to make every project to be successful, everyone should cooperate and just be patient. And if we want to really do anything about it, then file a formal complaint.

  26. hisashi
    March 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I live in Japan. There are a lot of road constructions, but we usually don’t complain about it.
    When the road constructions are carried out, we can get the information. The road constructions are carried out in the daytime only.

    • hisashi
      March 14, 2012 at 12:16 am

      In Japan, the constructed area is completely separated from passengers or cars, so we never get hurt by the road constructions.
      If we are injured by road constructions, we not only complain but also sue the construction company. Construction company pay attention enough not to be blamed, so we can pass near the constructed place at ease.

  27. julcarumay
    March 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

    oh yes, it’s not always about us. cut that selfish grid. it’s true that it brings a lot of inconvenience but why not give a little consideration to the people behind this project, the pressure they’ve got into were doubled by the complains we throw to them. it’s not only us… What is wrong about us Filipinos is that, we trust people today and pulled them down tomorrow. we can not be all leaders and managers of this land. After all, we appointed them, we do not volunteered ourselves because we knew that aside from complaining, there’s nothing more we can do.

  28. March 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    amazing I was surprised. It is written neatly on the basis of a detailed investigation.
    In Japan, the construction of public roads, there is a problem with many.

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