There is no doubt that everybody’s attention is now focused on the day-to-day account of the saga of governments all over the world in fighting the spread of the CoViD 19 pandemic.
In the Philippines, people claiming to be, or are legitimately acknowledged experts in health services management, politicians believing that they are better leaders than the others, suddenly come out in public, getting interviewed, or seeking opportunities for media exposure to have their views on the raging pandemic heard.
Of course we can understand that the Philippines is a free country. Its constitution guarantees its citizens’ freedom of expression. So, that is why over the past few days we have a daughter of a senator raising the question why military men and members of the Philippine National Police are all over the roads and highways when the problem being faced by the people is about health. Then we read in social media a known leader of an activist group and its former Party list congressman almost mimicking the comment of the senator’s daughter.
We also heard some leaders of non-government organizations working on health concerns advocating for this and that policy and management procedures to effectively address the pandemic.
Amidst the paranoia however, seemingly the government, and even the people, have been unable to keep track with what is happening of the other major issues or programs that are also of grave concern to society.
Last week for example, we finally were able to get in touch with Dean Ortiz, a former colleague in this paper and now the spokesman of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region XI.
We could not help confronting him about the issue we had been raising in this column for the longest time – the non-functional elevators in some existing overpass projects like the ones in Buhangin, Mintal and Calinan. The overpasses, though relatively new as these have been built not more than five years ago, are also starting to deteriorate and clearly very much wanting in upkeep.
Our friend Dean was quick to reason out that the DPWH has nothing to do with those overpasses much more than the unutilized elevators. According to the DPWH spokesman the overpasses we mentioned are city projects.
Hence, he said, these are the concerns of the City Engineer’s Office (CEO).
Okay. But we have included the CEO in our earlier calls regarding the multi-million white elephants with all the units imported from China. But somehow our calls hit deaf ears. Neither Hi nor Ho ever came out from any of the officials of that office of the city government.
The silence of the said office is something that we, and without doubt, many other Davaoenos could not understand. What is the wisdom of those who conceived the overpass projects with two elevator components in them and just leaving the lifts idle to its deterioration?
From the figures provided on the billboards installed in the vicinity of the project sites during the construction period, the cost for each overpass ranges from P14 to P15 million. And according to some friends of ours who are in the heavy equipment sales business, the lift bought from China could cost P3 million or more. Assuming that only the three overpasses that we have observed to be with 2 elevator components each would be a whooping P18 million already wasted down the drain. Of course, we could not prevent some people from thinking that a good portion of that money did not really go into the drain for the non-use of the elevators; that this had gone into the pockets or bank accounts of some corrupt officials whose signatures were requisites for the payment of the project contractor.
Another project which its non-implementation could have further been put into oblivion because of the COVID-19 pandemic is the construction of new multi-story school buildings for students of the Davao City Special School Elementary Department in Bangkal.
As we have mentioned in several earlier columns of ours, we started hearing of the project some four years ago. Today, the “train-like” single level buildings housing several elementary grades classes appear half-buried in the ground if viewed from the back. The roofs are already too rusty and could be blown away if strong winds hit the school site.
Most parents and residents nearby are wondering what is delaying the government in constructing the replacement building or buildings. Such questions can ever become more significant when the parents claim to be seeing new and imposing multi-level buildings in other school campuses that do not even carry the distinction of being the city’s “Special School.”
Again, what happened to the much ballyhooed Bangkal SPED classroom replacements? What now that it is overtaken by the CoViD pandemic? “CoViDized”?