By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will formally turnover the management of its district office here to the Bangsamoro regional governance this week, and is likely to lay down protocols on the creation of its Project Management Office (PMO) in each component province of the autonomous region.
This was announced by Architect Eduard Guerra, Ministry of Public Works (MPW) minister, at the 4th episode of the weekly “Tapatan” forum of the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC) on Saturday.
The DPWH had reportedly decided to yield supervision over the district engineering office (DEO) here after this city became a territorial component of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) via the 2019 plebiscite. The decision was purportedly hastened by the DEO leadership rift between its lady district engineer (DE) and her male assistant district engineer (ADE).
On March 1 this year, Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Ronnie Sinsuat delivered a privilege speech, exposing alleged anomalies in the DEO. In his 15-minute recorded speech, Sinsuat batted for the revamp of the DEO and endorsed the ADE to replace the lady DE. The ADE is an estranged cousin of the DE’s husband, it was learned.
At Saturday’s “Tapatan with BPC” forum, DPWH national officials including Secretary Mark Villar will come here this Sept. 17 to formally turnover the DEO management and assets to the BARMM governance through the MPW, Minister Guerra said.
Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim is expected to witness the turnover ceremony at the BARMM compound here, and discuss with the DPWH officials some protocols concerning a proposed creation of PMOs that will handle maintenance and improvement of national highways and bridges in the autonomous region, Guerra said.
Citing initial information, Guerra said the DPWH wanted to open one PMO each in Lanao del Sur including Marawi City, Maguindanao, Basilan including Lamitan City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, all BARMM component areas, for swiffer actions on national roads and bridges therein.
Upon its formal creation in March 2019, the BARMM governance created the MPW to handle infra projects excluding national nationally-funded roads and bridges. The MPW has since not received funds for national highway or bridge maintenance and improvement, it was learned.
Responding to complaints by residents and commuters, the Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) news took photos of unmaintained parts of national highways in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao last August 10, heralded corresponding stories and images. Some of the news items were posted in the “Mindanao Tapatan Lane” page on Facebook.
Other local media entities joined the bandwagon of revealing craters like-studded portions of the highway in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, which hosts Camp Darapanan – the main headquarters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Central Committee now leading the BARMM governance.
Sultan Kudarat Mayor Shameem Mastura and BARMM Parliament Member Ali Sangki rallied the media exposures, which prompted “voluntary” remedial scraping by MPW field workers of dilapidated asphalt layer along the town’s national highway early this month.
Prior to the MPW remedial efforts, Mayor Mastura and MP Sangki alongside other social media nitizens bashed the DPWH Region 12 office, ostensibly thinking the office was to blame in the mess.
But DPWH-12 Director Basir Ibrahim had renewed explanations that his office has not received any allocation for the maintenance of national roads or bridges in any part of BARMM areas. He said he had conveyed the necessary briefing reports to the DPWH central office.
At Saturday’s “Tapatan with BPC” forum, Minister Guerra said he had also directed the MPW district offices in Lanao del Sur where grasses grew as high as two meters on national roadsides, not to mention dilapidated pavements. He said the same order applied to other MPW field offices in other BARMM provinces. (AGM)