Manila, Philippines– Outgoing Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio “Babes” Singson received a Recognition Award from the Philippine Constructors (PCA), Inc. last June 21, 2016 during the PCA General Membership Meeting with all PCA Chapters and Affiliates at the Edsa Shangri-la Manila Hotel.
A well-deserved Recognition
Babes Singson served the construction industry as DPWH Secretary for the last six years, creating impressive transformation in the department by instigating policy amendments, stimulating better projects, and launching innovative programs.
“Mr. Singson came from a cabinet that champions good governance and anti-corruption policies. During his tenure, every project was ensured to be of quality through meticulous monitoring and smart investing. Also through his leadership, our country’s competitiveness and global performance in terms of construction have significantly improved,” said PCA Executive Director Ibarra G. Paulino.
In general, the construction industry has been growing swiftly because of the productive rapport between the private sector and the government. According to the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, public construction alone grew by 20.6 percent in 2015 while it was only 1.1 percent in 2009.
Singson’s DPWH Policy Amendments
With its history traced back four centuries ago, DPWH is one of the oldest government agencies in the Philippines. Since then it has developed countless regulations and policies on how groundwork is laid in the country.
During his privilege speech in the GMM, Singson mentioned that his team is almost done with the revised DPWH procurement manual wherein they have amended various guidelines and repealed numerous obsolete orders. According to him, the consolidated procurement manual includes the removal of “Pre-Qualification” in terms of public works biddings. As soon as this new rule is out, the government will only require “Post-Qualification.”
“That means, anybody can just come in and participate in the bidding of DPWH, which will ease the process,” Singson explained.
When it comes to underspending, Singson attributed the predicament to the slow processing of necessary permits. He said that a lot of infrastructure projects are suspended because of certification issues such as the Right-of-Way, Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), location clearance and a lot more. To address this, the Secretary proposed that DPWH must not fund the civil works of big projects unless all the required permits are settled.
The New Right-of-Way Act
Relative to easing transactions in public works, Singson also brought out the new Right-of -Way Act and how it differs from the old law. According to him, the new law on ROW site acquisition was formulated to mutually protect both the government and the affected private owners while at the same time speeding things up. Compared to the old one, it has more specific and expanded sections on appropriation proceedings, rules on negotiated sales, and assessment of property value.
Under the new ROW Law, private owners are now paid on the basis of the current market and replacement value. Singson believes that with the government’s increased ability to promptly pay a fairer value, obtaining ROW permits would eventually fast-track.
Quality National Roads, Bridges, and Flood Control Systems
For the last six years, the DPWH have constructed, upgraded, improved, and rehabilitated a total of 18,547 km national road networks and 107, 579 (lm) lineal meters of national bridges.
“When we started, we committed that we will pave all the national roads 22k kilometres by 2016. Kung meron man kaming natitira dyan, those are already classified as tertiary roads,” said Singson.
Flood control is another area that Singson’s management has focused on. With the climate change worsening every year, the government has increased its disaster reduction and adaptation investments. According to Singson, in 2016 alone their department has allotted P64 billion worth of flood mitigation projects.
The Young Engineers Program
But above all the accomplishments of Singson, what he is most proud of is his Cadet Engineering Program (CEP) with which the DPWH gets to hire the brightest civil engineers in the country by offering them a competitive salary.
“Our young civil engineers go overseas with the hope that they will get 600 USD, ang sabi ko I need a program to compete against that 600 USD para hindi na sila lumabas ng bansa. I’m leaving this as a legacy so that they can create a career in the department,” Singson said.
Since its launching in 2013, CEP has already produced a total of 125 graduates.
A call for support
Before he finished his speech, Singson appealed to PCA members to support the incoming DPWH Secretary Mark Villar confirming that the latter is eager to pursue what he had accomplished and further improve the construction industry.
“Please support the incoming secretary of the department the way you supported me. Because the success of the secretary of the DPWH is the success of the whole department and the success of the Philippines.” Singson said.