The secret behind EDSA Decongestion Program? Reforms. 



Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Metro Manila traffic has improved in recent months — but the “Build, Build, Build” team is not yet done. In the next 60 days, two bridges across Pasig River will open and is expected to decongest at least 50,000 vehicles out of EDSA and C5. The best part? Ortigas and BGC will only be 12 minutes away. Makati and Mandaluyong will only be a 5-minute walk. Can’t believe it? Drive through the bridge this June.

What sets President Rodrigo Duterte’s EDSA Decongestion Program apart from any other administration? Institutionalized reforms made by Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.

Relocation of electric lines

The relocation of electric or subtransmission lines has been one of the major issues in the implementation of big-ticket “Build, Build, Build” projects. For instance, in Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 alone, a total of 46 NGCP poles and 1,312 Meralco poles had to be relocated.

To address the issue of delay in relation to relocation of electric cooperative distribution and subtransmission lines, the Department of Energy and the Department of Public Works and Highways issued Joint Circular No. 1, Series of 2017 to institutionalise uniform guidelines and procedures for the proper payment of compensation and/or recovery of cost in the event of the need for relocation.

Section 4 of Joint Circular No. 1 requires the implementing agency to inform the electric cooperative in writing that its facility will be affected by a government project prior to the preparation of budget for a proposed government project. Within a period of 30 days after the joint survey and assessment, the electric cooperative shall submit to the implementing agency the proposed program of work for the affected facility with a cost estimate duly certified by National Electrification Agency. Only after the amount of compensation is determined may a relocation agreement be executed.

SKYWAY EXTENSION – Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (second from left) inspects the Skyway Extension with DPWH Director Alex Bote, Usec Cathy Cabral and Anna Mae Lamentillo. The Skyway Extension is one of 25 projects under the EDSA Decongestion Program.

Right-Of-Way Reforms 

The problem of right of way has delayed a number of infrastructure projects for decades. For instance, it was only after DPWH Secretary Mark Villar issued Department Order 65, which decentralized right of way operations from the central office to its respective implementing units, that the project moved to actual construction. Prior to this, accomplishment on right-of-way activities was almost nil. Site possession for the entire alignment was only at 8.64 percent.

This problem is not exclusive to Skyway Stage 3 but has hounded a number of “Build, Build, Build” projects – from Mindanao Avenue Extension, which has been delayed for 40 years, and Radial Road 10, which took six presidents to complete.

Now, right of way task forces has been created specific to each big ticket project. Regional offices are now equipped with their own right of way division.

Geotagging to counter ghost projects 

In addition, DPWH now requires the submission of geotagged photos prior to payment of contractors. Even before a project is implemented, the exact geographic coordinates is already plotted into the system. Should there be a mismatch of the photo submitted by the contractor to the geographic coordinates of the project, the central office is alerted real time in DPWH’s new monitoring system – the Project and Contract Management Procedures and Application, which also tracks the delays in project.

Now, as soon as the project incurs a slippage of five percent, the contractor is sent out a warning and is then required to submit a catch up program. All contractors who reached a negative slippage of 15 percent or more is automatically predisqualified from participating in any future project until after the negative slippage is reduced to less than 15 percent.