With so much political noise being generated by the issues hounding this administration, it’s not a surprise that news items covering the different national agencies tend to take on the same negativity and gravitate towards the scandalous.
In the process, even the good guys —those who are really performing well and who do not just wait for their fat bonuses and monthly perks —nevertheless become unworthy recipients of the proverbial rotten tomatoes just the same.
Such is the case of Secretary Rogelio “Babes” Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways. Let’s face it, the man succeeded in areas where his predecessors in the DPWH and contemporaries in other equally “controversial” government agencies had failed. Before he took over, the DPWH used to be branded as one of the most corrupt and inefficient among the whole lot. But due to his sterling performance in the last three years, the department has slowly but surely shed this reputation, with the DPWH even receiving the most improved department award.
Even the latest media blitz on the issue of the bunkhouses has done nothing to tarnish Singson’s reputation. We believe it just emphasizes the Secretary’s penchant for price-consciousness which has served the department and the country very well.
Under his watch, the DPWH was able to institutionalize reforms that resulted in the elimination of wastes and the curbing of corruption within the department. This included a more prudent and objective selection of projects and the strict adherence to the policy requiring the preparation of Program of Work and detailed estimates for each capital outlay instead of indiscriminate releasing of project funds. Procurement procedures were also improved together with a competitive and transparent bidding process. These have resulted in more than P15 billion in savings for the Department which can now be used for additional infrastructure projects, particularly in funding the development for the relocation sites for victims during calamities and the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure projects in affected areas.
Based on the Surveys of Enterprises on Corruption conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), the DPWH also improved its percentage index from (-) 65% in 2009 to (-) 21% in 2012. Likewise for the National Capital Region (NCR)/Central Office, where the bid proceedings for projects worth more than P150 million are held, the DPWH has reportedly improved its percentage index from a (-) 71% in 2009 to (-) 8% in 2012. Similar results due to the reforms the DPWH has been implementing have also been recorded in other regions. Achievements have also been reached by way of enhanced citizens participation in governance and an intensified infrastructure development program. This includes a convergence program with the Department of Tourism (DOT) to provide good road access to our designated priority tourism destinations; a reinforcement of the Public-Private Partnership Program to pursue infrastructure investments with the private sector to augment the country’s much needed infrastructure development; and the general improvement of the quality of roads which have resulted in the strong jump of the Philippines’ global ranking in terms of quality of roads improved from 114th in 2010-2011 to 87th in 2012-2013 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Likewise, the quality of road index improved from 2.8 to 3.4 at par with Indonesia.
Given all this, we have nothing but adulation for the Secretary and the DPWH as a whole. As far as we are concerned, the DPWH under Secretary Singson is one of the better performing departments under this administration.
Our only unsolicited advice to Secretary Singson is to allow contractors and suppliers more leeway so that may have a little profit. It is no secret that our GDP is driven by the private sector, particularly the construction industry. Hence they should be encouraged to participate more in government spending.