Lacson: No overpricing of Tacloban bunkhouses

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Monday, January 27, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson said Monday that there was no overpricing in the construction of bunkhouses in Tacloban City.

Lacson said that after a pool of civil engineers examined the bunkhouses, they verified that there was indeed no overpricing as Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said.

Singson also said that he would resign if overpricing in the construction of bunkhouses were proved to be true.

"There's no question, there’s no overpricing," adding that "this is also what Secretary Singson said and we agree," said Lacson in a press briefing in Malacañang.

Though the overpricing issue was cleared off Lacson's investigation, he said that it was discovered that there were substandard materials used by contractors in the bunkhouses’ construction.

Lacson said the contractors did not follow specifications of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had to repair the bunkhouses after Tropical Depression Agaton hit the area this month.

An average of P10,000 had to be spent by the IOM to repair the bunkhouses and that the finding would help his team work to its advantage.

Constructors will be more aware that the national government was keeping an eye on their activity, he said.

The National Government would have to watch the remaining P100-billion budget for bunkhouses more closely, since one bunkhouse cost about P800,000, he said. “We will not pay them (contractors). According to Secretary Singson, they will not pay if there are any problems.”

The DPWH earlier doubled the size of each unit from 8.65 square meters to 17.28 square meters in response to criticisms from international observers that the room should have been wider to make the survivors more comfortable.

Regarding possible criminal charges, Lacson said that his team was hampered by a provision in the Procurement Law which allows a contractor a 90-day period to repair the infrastructure.

“To me, it (the law) should be amended because if under-specking is deliberate, and materials used why do we still allow them to repair them?” he said. “We will propose to Congress to amend that particular provision."

The Senate will investigate the alleged overpriced temporary shelters on Wednesday. Lacson and Singson were among the invited resource persons.

Lacson also expects the construction of "vertical structures" like buildings to go full swing soon.

"We hope in the coming weeks, the construction of vertical structures will go on full swing. We now have no problem with horizontal structures like roads and bridges. But we are egging the private sector especially the development sponsors to put up vertical structures soonest," he said.

Lacson noted rehabilitation work has started moving in areas hit by Yolanda, and the affected areas had been divided into 24 areas of intervention. Many from the private sector also agreed to be sectoral sponsors.

"Some of them are deep in their planning and have a timetable to follow in rehabilitation work," he said, noting corporations will still participate in the rehabilitation work even after the end of the Aquino administration in June 2016. (PNA/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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