No thanks to lack of planning, a major road project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Cordillera Administrative Region may not just waste taxpayers’ money, but potentially endanger lives as well.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said this is the situation of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) Circumferential Road.
“It’s bad enough that we lose money to corruption. It’s worse if we lose more due to lack of planning and preparation – or simply put, incompetence. We should take all possible factors into consideration,” Lacson said at the Senate committee hearing on the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways for 2019.
He added that while road projects such as the BLISTT are important as they promise shorter travel time and stimulation of economic activity, “there should have been planning to address various concerns, such as safety.”
Some P1.84 billion has been allotted for the BLISTT projects from 2017 to 2019 – including P590 million for 2019 alone, P800 million for 2018 and P450 million for 2017, Lacson said.
Despite this, he pointed out the DPWH did not appear to anticipate potential hazards, and did not consult beforehand with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
Had the DPWH consulted with the MGB, it could have been warned that parts of the roads are in landslide-prone areas and implemented slope protection for the roads.
Last May, at least one person was killed while five others were injured after a 10-wheeler dump truck they were riding fell off a ravine while crossing the Labey-Lacamen Provincial Road, after a landslide occurred in the area.
The Labey-Lacamen Provincial Road is part of the BLISTT projects.
“Without such planning, the BLISTT project clearly endangers lives, not to mention a highly potential waste of funds,” Lacson said.
But more importantly, Lacson said the BLISTT project “could very well be a microcosm of many infrastructure projects of the national government.”
“There are lessons to be learned from this. One is that due diligence is part of the planning,” he said.