LEGAZPI CITY—The Department of Public Works and Highways in Bicol has ordered the restriction of documents of the long overdue controversial P444-million Masbate road contract, which remains unfinished since it was first awarded in 2010.
Journalists here tried to obtain a copy of the contract agreement for the road project as early as September through the legal office, but DPWH legal officer Oliver Rodulfo said the documents are restricted at the construction division under Godofredo Beltran, on order of regional director Reynaldo Tagudando.
Tagudando, who has a very strict policy against the local media, could not be reached for comment. He would not answer calls and text messages from journalists, allegedly because of a bad encounter with Manila-based media during his stint as regional director of the National Capital Region.
Tagudando also faces charges before the office of the Ombudsman over alleged anomalous bidding and promotion of personnel. Rodulfo filed the case against the director, and even appealed to Public Works Secretary Mark Villar to fire Tagudando outright.
Bicol Reporters Association president Salvador Flor slammed Tagudando’s treatment of the local media and for restricting access to the contract agreement on the P444-million road project, in defiance of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Freedom of Information Executive Order.
According to documents obtained by local reporters, Rodulfo wrote Tagudando on October 12 requesting certain documents about the Masbate road project, such as the approved extension of works and accomplishment reports as of September 30.
On Oct. 24, Tagudando wrote Rodulfo, denying the request for documents of the road project pending his query with the department’s legal office on the “legality and propriety” of the request.
“If the DPWH legal officer is being denied official request for documents of said contract, how much more the public?” Rodulfo said.
Rodulfo had filed two graft cases against Tagudando and his Human Resource Officer Isabelo David Alvarez last May before the Ombudsman over the controversial appointment and promotions of two engineers and an outsider-lawyer.
The lawyer also informed Villar that the regional head reports to office only two to three times a week, and does not even attend the regular Monday flag raising ceremony since his assignment to Bicol in October 2015.
Tagudando had been vocal in telling his staff against his reassignment to Bicol, sources told The Standard.
At least three senior engineers who are all Bicolanos have applied to replace Tagudando — district engineers Ignacio Odiaman, Walter Lubiano, and Quality Control division head Fermin Peteza.
Odiaman has been district engineer for 14 years and is a resident of Legazpi. Lubiano, who has been district engineer for five years, hails from Sorsogon. Peteza, who is from Camarines Norte, has been a division chief for more than 10 years.