INABANGA, Bohol – Gov. Edgar Chatto yesterday quoted an engineer of the Dept. Of Public Works and Highways 2nd engineering district as having said that “nobody can touch” on a portion of the unfinished Sagbayan-Danao national highway. The governor’s statement on the update of the disputed highway stretch came up during the meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) he prsided over on the occasion of the HEAT-IT caravan held in this town yesterday.
The DPWH and a contractor locked horns over the disputed highway via court litigation in Manila, Bohol News Today learned. Prior to the disclosure of the district engineer by phone, the governor hinted that the road could be repaired for meantime since public safety so requires. But with the revelation of the DPWH that based on court order nobody could initiate repair road works until the case is over or settled by the court.
The governor told PPOC that the situation occurred “at the expense of the public safety.” Earlier, Mayor Natividad R. Gonzaga and officials expressed grave concern over the unfinished highway which is now the subject of the riding public condemnation.
It has been long years already that the road was abandoned and become dilapidated due to legal tussle between the contractor and the DPWH.
Gonzaga lamented that she urged the contractor JD Legaspi that, “Kamo, ang inyong problema kwarta. Kami, sa Danao among problema kinabuhi.” (Your concern is money but our concern is lives.)
She said that the highway has become a killer highway, citing a certain vehicular accident that caused the death of a motorist whom she did not name and other related accidents. The said highway where the portion is not yet concreted is also a security concern, also citing it as “ambush area.”
There had been reports of “ambuscades” in this particular area perpetrated by suspected robbers and preyed on commuters who were divested of their belongings and money.
The Bohol News Today visited the place where an intermittent concreted road and the other half unpaved with no clear shoulder and in the middle of it grasses grow. There are no signages from end to the other. The mayor said the uncemented portion has become like rice paddies.
The mayor appealed to the contractor and the agency concerned to complete the road project, which has been contracted by a Manila-based JD Legaspi construction company and sub-contracted it with others during the time of the late Congressman Erico Aumentado. He also asked a certain Rep. Benitez whom she happened to meet and Rep. Aris Aumentado for help in the continuation of the project.
A legal tussle between DPWH and the contractor is still raging on, the mayor learned. She said that the Php200-million road project undertaken by the Manila-based contractor has been halted by the latter because of alleged lapses of the former.
The contractor won the award to undertake the project since it allegedly offered some Php140 million, way below the proposed project cost, the mayor said.
But while the legal battle is on, the mayor was wondering why a Makati court issued an injunction since under the law no court action or injunction shall be issued to stop a government project.
She even learned that the said project was sub-contracted by another unnamed contractor. But details of the legal battle were not available. She bared that the contractor, DPWH and he Commission on Audit (COA) recently conducted an ocular inspection of the place where the unfinished road is situated.
The extreme eco-tourism at Danao Adventura Park (DAP) located at barangay Magtangtang has been severely affected in the aftermath of the earthquake, the mayor admitted. And plans are afoot to revive and reconstruct some of facilities.
Tour operators shunned away from bringing their guests due to the bad shape of the road leading here.
But the mayor suggested there’s and alternative road. It is situated in barangay Mahayag, San Miguel town, from Tagbilaran City via Carmen town where the Chocolate Hills are located.
Another via is Buenavista town, north of the capital city. And the other road to this town is through Getafe town, where the biggest man-made mangrove plantation in Asia, off this town, northeast of the city, Vice-Mayor Tom Gonzaga, the mayor’s son, said.
Following the destructive magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the eco-tourism activities here on October 15, 2013, Gonzaga said that visitors started to come in DAP, a unique eco-tourism adventure nowhere else could be found in Bohol. It is considered by many tourism officials as a trend-setter since it launched the first ever “The Plunge,” and “zipline.” It becomes a craze that other towns copied it. (rvo)