The Villager

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Setting standards for Public Buildings

The recent earthquakes do not only expose sub-standard materials and poor construction among private buildings. Worse, it exposed how government structures fail to follow the government’s building standard.

Look! The municipal halls of Magsaysay, Padada and even City Hall Digos City, all in Davao del Sur The Town Hall of Makilala North Cotabato; M’lang North Cotabato; Tulunan and City Hall of Kidapawan City in North Cotabato The recently completed two-storey Tacol National High School, among others.The cracks along national highways. . (are you showing pics here?)

All these projects passed through the material testing set by government, right?

It passed the government’s examination post evaluation before the final payment of the project, right?

Sad enough, those buildings are supposedly the epitome of government’s standard in applying the building code. But what went wrong? Was the building code book closed when all there infrastructures were built? Or, the budget was sideswiped to the pockets of those handling it?

This is not the time for blame game, but an imperative to get back into the basics of what the law says about Philippine Construction Industry. Further, to look into how all these engineer and architects involve in public works delivered as all these projects come from taxpayers’ money.

I cannot blame contractors who are also victims of corrupt government officials.

These Contractors are also held hostage by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which according to their parlance has been the “Kalakalan”.

No government project is erected without providing the SOP to “some” officials at the Highways Department, to the Governors, Congressmen, Mayors, Legislators down to the barangay captains. Yes! And payment is in cold cash. Unfortunately, these “bagmen’ are the same people wearing uniforms inside government institutions.

With the cuts and kickbacks, one must expect that the total costs of the SOP, if totalled, is almost equal to the cost reflected at the program of works labeled as “Contingency Fund.”

I now slowly understand why, a contractor has to be subservient to the interest of the honchos of the DPWH and the Political strata. Because if the top brass does not give his/her blessing, the contractors will be on the verge of losing a bidding—or has to end up earning nothing.

But wait! Will a contractor, who is into business allow himself to earn nothing over a hard earned job? No! S/he won’t. So expect a substandard project to be constructed and get paid. Anyway, before it commenced the standard of the corrupt officials pocket have been consummated.

Now, a calamity strikes.

People have nowhere to hide for shelter because the very structure which should have set the standard are the buildings which collapsed. The very establishment which should have been the epitome of clean governance runs in a mess.

Poor Juan dela Cruz, he just have to find shelter in an open ground, because there — there is no SOP! No taxpayers money involved only love of environment. Now, I can ask every Tom Dick and Harry—ask assistance from your leaders who was among those who enjoy the flesh for a supposed standard government project.

What will Christmas day be like, when people do not enjoy the comfort of their homes? What will Christmas be like, when families still live in evacuation centers? What will Christmas be like, when people live in fear?

No one can truly tell what awaits every quake victim after Christmas. But one’s faith about Christ’s nativity will surely remind how simple and humble the saviour was, from birth to death. Hence, corrupt officials and contractors must be mindful how insulting it is for ordinary people to be cheated and deprived of what simple and decent life means in times of calamity.

May this crisis be among the reflections of our policy makers and political leaders

that the challenge besetting their areas now is not just a lesson about seriously abiding with what the code states, but a strong imperative about one’s faithfulness to serve even just to the tenets of what is right and just.

Merry Christmas everyone.
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