ORMOC CITY – Congresswoman-elect Lucy Torres-Gomez, who will be taking her seat in Congress by July 1, could have a stormy first year in office as she grapples with ‘problematic’ infrastructure projects left to her by the outgoing administration and favored contractors.
To recall, one of the campaign platforms of the Gomezes is to review all the projects implemented in the 4th district and assess its implementation, whether or not these have been successfully complied. During the campaign, the couple Richard and Lucy Gomez received reports that some projects were “suspended” with the 15 percent “mobilization funds” already released.
An initial inventory of the projects obtained from a reliable source showed that indeed, some projects could be considered problematic. It also showed that most of the contracts have been awarded to only around four contractors, two of which are “borrowed” licenses.
Among these projects are the “replacement of Tagaytay Bridge Phase I” and “Construction of Tagaytay Bridge and Approaches Phase II” in Kananga, Leyte which has been suspended since January 1, 2009 and March 23, 2009 yet, respectively.
The project amounts are P14.464-million and P28.323-million respectively, the “mobilization funds” of 15 percent or an aggregate amount of P6.4-million for the two projects.
The winning contractor is Yoyen Enterprises, registered to a certain Romulo Trangia but publicly known as owned by Engr. Violeta Codilla, the daughter-in-law of outgoing congressman Eufrocino Codilla Sr.
In a phone interview with Engr. Ricardo Odita, district engineer of the 4th Leyte Engineering District here, he admitted having headaches over these “problematic projects”, like the Tagaytay bridge repair.
He said that he has received at least five calls from the town mayor about it, whose house is across the bridge, following up its status. Ironically, the town’s mayor is another Codilla, Elmer, the congressman’s son and brother-in-law of the contractor.
Odita said that during this calls, Mayor Elmer Codilla would reprimand him for not hammering on the contractor to implement the project to which he would also ask the mayor to help him out, considering it was a firm owned by his in-law.
The district engineer said that he has also called and written Engr. Violy Codilla appealing to her to finish the project, which he would always get a “yes” but when, it is not clear.
He said that at the start of the project, Yoyen Enterprises immediately sent a crane to the area but it broke down immediately. He also added that all the needed pile drives and posts for the repair are already at the area, and what is needed is just to send in new equipment so that work can resume.
Suspended contracts of Yoyen
These are not only the projects of Yoyen Enterprises that have been suspended by the DPWH for various reasons. Others are the construction and road opening of Casilda-San Isidro Road in Merida, Leyte (P19.240-million), of which an 86.62 percent completion has been reported in April 1, 2008 yet.
Another is the construction of the Palompon-Matag-ob Road (P 9.645-million) with a 51.12 percent completion report. According to the inventory, it was started on July 27, 2008 but was suspended in September 1, 2008. It should have been completed on October 24, 2008.
There is also the concreting of the Merida-Lundag-Puting Bato-Consolacion in Merida, Leyte (P9.645-million), the construction/reconstruction of the Libungao, Matag-ob-Palompon Road (P 19.288-million), the rehabilitation of Cansoso-San Dionesio-Masaba Road in Matag-ob, Leyte (P14.470-million), the various road “re-blockings” at the road from Ormoc to Albuera (P 14.417-million).
Meanwhile, when asked what the implications of these suspended contracts could do to the incoming congresswoman, Engr. Odita said it will really be up to Congresswoman-elect Gomez.
Meanwhile, contracts that were awarded by the DPWH on March 25, 2010, the last day before midnight of the “prohibited period” during the election time were the construction of the Phase I of a covered court at Brgy. Damulaan and San Pedro in Albuera, Leyte for P1.614-million. The contract was again awarded to Yoyen Enterprises but is reportedly being worked by one “Tindoy”.
Another is the rehab/reconstruction/upgrading of Palompon-Isabel-Merida-Ormoc Road for P19-million which was awarded to MAC Builders but actually being worked on by JFAP, a “favored” contractor of the Codillas, the owners of which includes Engr. Ferdinand Pepito, the son of re-elected councilor Sotero Pepito.
Another “favored” contractor Bryn Bongbong from Palompon, using the license of Square Cube Construction, are the road upgrading (gravel to pave) of Kananga-Tongonan-Hot Spring Road in Kananga, Leyte (P 18.2-million). The construction of multi-purpose building or cultural center (Phase I) of Palompon town (P4.8-million), however, is also under Yoyen Enterprises, just like the road upgrading of the Libungao-Matag-ob-Palompon road (P18.227-million). He has also grabbed the road upgrading contract for gravel to pave of the Consolacion-Isabel Road for P4.3 million under Yoyen Enterprises.
Another controversial project is the gravel to pave of the Ormoc-Lake Imelda road in Ormoc City. Some members of the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) claimed that it was implemented without consulting with them. The environmentalist in the city council, reelected councilor Jose Codilla Alfaro who has been passionate about managing the lake ecologically, has not been heard making his stand about it.
All in all, some P119-million worth of projects were awarded by the DPWH on the day before the prohibited period and 15 percent or some 17-million released. The mobilization funds, said Odita, was to assist the contractors in mobilizing their equipments to the site so that they could work on the projects immediately.
Billing and subsequent payments, he said, is done on a progress basis.
He also assured that a “widening, upgrading and rehabilitation” of the road leading to the Ormoc port that has been getting flak from road users will be finished soon “before the PICE midyear convention” in Tacloban. The convention starts on June 10 (Thursday) and many visitors are expected to pass through Ormoc.
The project, a whooping P9.116-million is being worked on by JFAP under the license of MAC. Odita explained that the amount may sound huge, but this is because the computation has been done on a “square meter” basis and includes the restoration of the portion of the city terminal that will be affected by the road works.
He said that even while the road to the port is a city road, it is also considered a “national road” because it leads to the port.
It was also learned that aside from eight schoolbuildings which are in line for bidding on June 10, 2010, as soon as the election ban is lifted, these would be the last of the projects for the 4th LED this year. However, he observed that knowing congresswoman-elect Lucy Torres-Gomez is close to President-elect Benigno Aquino III, “I am sure she can also get projects for the year”.
Congresswoman-elect Lucy Torres-Gomez, when reached by phone for her comment, said that she’d rather wait until she is formally installed on July 1 to make any comments. She said that it was still Codilla’s term and she would like to exercise “delicadeza”.
Right now, she added, all she is praying for is for God to guide her through her first days in Congress.
Ms Gomez has also enrolled for a short course in Legislation and Procedures at the UP-Diliman, to guide her through the nuances of her work in Congress. In previous interviews, she promised to be a hardworking congresswoman, one that would make her constituents proud.
Meanwhile, Richard Gomez, on a chance interview at the airport, said that all they want is that these projects should be finished. “What we want is what is good for the people. They (the contractors) should finish these projects.”, he said.
Richard Gomez was also seen talking to Engr. Eduardo Canlas of EMC Construction, who has started the construction of a 70-million airport building which, according to the grapevine has yet to be awarded.
Gomez, when asked about the airport project, said Canlas told him that he already got a notice to proceed. He added all he told the contractor was to do the job well, as having a safe, comfortable, world-class airport is one of their visions for the 4th district so that the eco-tourism programs they have in mind can take off.