Lacson: Lack of Planning in DPWH Cordillera Road Project Can Waste Funds, Cost Lives

Wasting taxpayers’ money is bad enough, but potentially endangering lives is worse.

Yet, this could be the fate of multibillion-peso infrastructure projects that lack planning – such as the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Circumferential Road in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.

“It’s bad enough that we lose money to corruption. It’s worse if we lose more due to lack of planning and preparation – or simply put, incompetence. We should take all possible factors into consideration,” Lacson said at the Senate committee hearing on the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways for 2019.

“While there is no doubt road projects such as the BLISTT are important as they promise shorter travel time and stimulation of economic activity, there should have been planning to address various concerns, such as safety,” he added.

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At a Glance: Issues Hounding the DPWH’s Sariaya, BLISTT Projects

Lacson noted some P1.84 billion has been allotted for the BLISTT projects from 2017 to 2019 – including P590 million for 2019 alone, P800 million for 2018 and P450 million for 2017. Yet, he pointed out the DPWH did not appear to anticipate potential hazards.

He said the DPWH did not consult beforehand with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, which could have warned that parts of the roads are in landslide-prone areas – and prompted the DPWH to implement slope protection for the roads.

Last May, at least one person was killed while five others were injured after a 10-wheeler dump truck they were riding fell off a ravine while crossing the Labey-Lacamen Provincial Road, after a landslide occurred in the area.

The Labey-Lacamen Provincial Road is part of the BLISTT projects.

“Without such planning, the BLISTT project clearly endangers lives, not to mention a highly potential waste of funds,” Lacson said.

Worse, he said the BLISTT project “could very well be a microcosm of many infrastructure projects of the national government.”

“There are lessons to be learned from this. One is that due diligence is part of the planning,” Lacson said.