IT was a rare coincidence that two government officials who are townmates from a municipality in Benguet made their hometown more prominent on the map, although the manner by which it was done differed in circumstances.
Benguet born and raised PCol. Robert S. Daculan has been designated as Lanao del Sur Provincial Director effective December 1, 2022 by PBGen Guyguyon of the Police Regional Office of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR).
Taking the cue from Lanao del Sur Gov. Dr. Mamintal A. Adiong Jr., the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management under PMaj. Gen. Robert T. Rodriguez in Camp Crame issued an order for the designation.
Apparently, the order was handed down after Gov. Adiong chose PCol. Daculan from a list supplied by Camp Crame that recommended names for the position, following a lawful procedure.
In 2021, PCol. Daculan received the prestigious “Best Performing Senior Police Officer in the Field of Operation” award from then PNP Chief Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar at Camp Crame.
Prior to his assignment to Lanao del Sur, PCol. Daculan was the Chief of the Security and Licensing Division, Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies (SOSIA) in Camp Crame.
It was good that Lanao del Sur Gov. Adiong chose PCol. Daculan to become the PD of his province. That puts Buguias and Benguet on the map. Imagine a soft-spoken man being posted as the top cop of a province with a people of a not-so-familiar culture.
Ironically, it is also not right and leaves a bad taste in the mouth, so to speak, when your kababayan, a townmate at that, chooses another applicant to run the police affairs of a province where you were born.
An applicant’s knowledge about a province and his familiarity with the affairs in that district are plus factors in running a police provincial office. I have seen Cordillera-born police officers run the affairs at Camp Dangwa and I can say that they were the best.
On another front, there was news that Benguet Gov. Melchor D. Diclas MD of Buguias and 17 others received a Notice of Disallowance from the Commission on Audit (COA) in relation to the release of payments for the improvement of the Amburayan-Boneng road Phase II project in Kapangan.
The COA document said the amount of more than P20 million was disallowed in the audit because several provisions of RA 9184 were violated in declaring Balintugan Construction Services as the winning bidder of the road project.
Construction companies have no culpability in the issuance of awards of contracts unless they collaborate to violate rules with the agency that awards the project. Also, COA disallowance notices are normal procedures in the performance of its work.
What is not normal and beyond my understanding is why and how rules in procuring government projects are still violated even when the instructions are very clear and can be followed to the dot.
In this case, three biddings were held on different dates involving some 17 government employees who are all working under Gov. Diclas. All of them we consider as intelligent and maybe some of them knew that something was not right in the bidding processes.
But nobody stopped anybody. I read the report from an online news outfit. Surely, the news report was read worldwide. Certainly too, it highlighted the Province of Benguet on the map again.
Speaking of roads, I wish to meddle a little with the order of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the public works and the agriculture departments to construct more farm-to-market roads (FMRs).
Sometime in October last year, the attention of an old friend from Bontoc, Mountain Province was caught by a question that was posted on Facebook. The question was: “Where was Cosalan’s P3B used versus Yap’s P20B?”
Of course, many know that Atty. Ronald Cosalan was the former congressman of Benguet while then partylist representative Eric Go Yap was gearing up to run for the post vacated by the late Cong. Nestor B. Fongwan.
My old friend was a DPWH district engineer assigned to another province. Thinking that I may also have read the same FB post, he sent me a text message to answer the question.
This was the district engineer’s answer: With Cosalan’s P3B, “one would see paved roads instead of rocknets. P10B could have constructed hundreds of kilometers of good roads and hard infra that Benguet really needs.”
“The projects in far-flung areas were actually due after main roads were improved. In short, whoever was the congressman, construction of roads and bridges were due as they are part of the multi-year program of the DPWH.”
“They are part of the regular appropriation of any engineering district. Whatever extras that the caretaker added went mostly to rocknets,” the engineer said.
With the latest order, President Marcos Jr. is in his right senses. It should awaken municipal and provincial officials from their stupor, and stop the DPWH from programming rocknets.
Prior to the cementing of roads in Benguet, farmers complained of longer travel time due to bad roads that led to wastage of vegetables. Prices have already gone down even before the truckloads of vegetables reached the market.
The DPWH in Benguet maintains some 470 kilometers of four national roads namely; Naguillian, Marcos, Benguet-Nueva Viscaya and Kennon roads. It also keeps up with the construction of the 143-kilometer BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay) circumferential roads.
Other roads that are very important to farmers were all concreted in the past. These are the Tadiangan-Nangalisan-San Pascual-Tubao road in Tuba, the Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias road and the Acop-Kapangan-Bakun-Sinipsip road.
With better roads, farmers would have lesser travel time from the gardens to the markets while fuel consumption, mechanical trouble and tire wear-out would be reduced.
With the president’s order, let us see more FMRs instead of rocknets. The billions of pesos spent on rocknets in Benguet and other parts of the Cordillera could have been more useful if they were allocated to open more FMRs.