VOLUME 13 | NO. 36 | 21-FEBRUARY-2005
Discussion on CAMANAVA control project continues
THE COMMITTEE on Public Works and Highways, under Representative Eric Singson (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), is currently conducting a series of meetings to look into the flood control and drainage system improvement project in the Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela (CAMANAVA) area.
The inquiry stemmed from the privilege speech delivered on the floor by Rep. Federico Sandoval II (Malabon-Navotas) on December 13, 2004.
In his speech, Rep. Sandoval said the design of the CAMANAVA flood control structure was prepared by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and certified safe by Japanese consultants.
However, he continued, studies made by experts from the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) of the University of the Philippines (UP), namely Dr. Fernando Siringan and Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, indicate that the structure is defective.
The lawmaker sought to suspend the construction of the dike until such time that its design is reviewed and the observations of the UP scientists validated.
He also proposed to seek the assistance of the government of Netherlands government in commissioning a team of diking experts from that country to evaluate the flood control system. the Netherlands, he said, is considered to have perfected dike construction because of its long history of flooding.
Increasing ground subsidence
In one of the meetings of the Committee held recently, lawmakers expressed alarm over reports of increased rate of ground subsidence in the project area. This raises the possibility that the project?s dike component, as well as lands adjacent to it particularly in the Malabon-Navotas area, will sink below sea level approximately ten to 20 years from now, they said.
The National Mapping and Resources Information Authority (NAMRIA), represented by Enrique Macaspac, chief of the Engineering, Geodetic and Geophysics Division, estimated the ground subsidence at the project area at 3.5 centimeters per year.
However, this figure is not in consonance with the UP-NIGS estimate of seven centimeters per year.
Cristina Remotique of NIGS clarified that the institute obtained this data from the DPWH, which in turn named NAMRIA as the source of the figure.
In his speech, Rep. Sandoval asserted that the rate of ground subsidence in the CAMANAVA area averages between 2.7 cm. and 9.1 cm. per year, which translates to 13.5 cm. to 45.5 cm. in five years. Since the dike has a height of 2.43 meters above the main sea level, he continued, the top of the dike will just be 2.11 meters to 1.34 meters above the main sea level in 2010.
In response to the query of Rep. Simeon Datumanong (2nd District, Maguindanao), Remotique said that the subsidence rate varies in different land areas covered by the CAMANAVA flood control project.
She added that subsidence is affected by certain factors such as the composition of the soil and ground water activity in the area.
Macaspac added that global warming causes the earth?s waters to rise at a rate of 2 millimeters per year.
Rep. Luis Asistio (2nd District, Caloocan), for his part, urged the body to look into a similar scenario in Caloocan. He claimed that waters coming from different areas in Metro Manila converge in Caloocan because the DPWH failed to provide the right water channels.
Aside from the design of the CAMANAVA flood control project, Rep. Sandoval also questioned the project cost submitted by the DPWH amounting to P4.8 billion. He averred that the engineers cannot come up with a sound approximation of the project cost if they have no reliable data on the topography of the location of the project.
The DPWH had earlier submitted to the body a breakdown of the total contract cost by project component.
Director Carla Bartolo of the DPWH mentioned that P354 million of the total cost of the project went to salaries of the project?s foreign and local consultants.
When asked by Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla (3rd District, Cavite) about the consultancy rates, Hitoshi Kin, a foreign consultant, disclosed that each foreign consultant receives a salary of P1.3 million per month.
In contrast, he said a local counterpart?s pay is only about P70,000 per month.
Bartolo explained that the Pre-qualification, Bids and Awards Committee prescribes the salary rates of both foreign and local consultants, subject to approval by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
Director Jose Montero of NEDA also explained that the rate for consultancy services depends on the market value prevailing at the time as well as the procurement guidelines governing foreign loans.
Due to lack of time, the Committee agreed to hold another meeting to continue its discussion on the issues raised by Rep. Sandoval in his privilege speech.
Right of way
In another development, the Committee also started its inquiry into the alleged anomalies in the determination of just compensation in the exercise of the right of eminent domain by the State.
The inquiry was prompted by the filing of House Resolution 463 by Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio (1st District, South Cotabato).
In the resolution, the lady lawmaker stated that concerned officials of the DPWH have failed to explain the high valuation cost of property sought to be expropriated for public projects.
She particularly questioned the department?s practice of relying on the valuation made by the provincial appraisal committee and disregarding the Bureau of Internal Revenue?s (BIR) zonal valuation.
To back up her claim, she cited the case of Teodorico Mabanao, a resident of Cabacan, South Cotabato, whose property was given a zonal valuation of P400 per square meter by the BIR in 1997. However, she said the DPWH followed the P3,000 per square meter zonal value given by the provincial appraisal committee, resulting in a loss of P856 million to the government.
A total of 150 out of the 808 right-of-way claims filed in Region XI were allegedly overpriced, she stressed, as she hinted at corruption in the DPWH.
Coming to the defense of the department, Patrick Gatan, DPWH project director and chair of the Infrastructure Right-of-Way (IROW) Task Force, stressed that the valuation comes close to the opinion issued by the bank appraiser.
He explained that sales data and income capitalization form the basis of the bank appraiser?s opinion.
Trying to rationalize the different assessed values, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros) observed that property owners want a low zonal valuation when it comes to tax assessment but want higher valuation costs when selling the property.
He also averred that there is no ceiling on the payment of compensation arising from expropriation proceedings.
To further study the alleged irregularities in the DPWH, Minority Leader Francis Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon) and Reps. Emmanuel Joel Villanueva (CIBAC) and Justin Marc SB. Chipeco (2nd District, Laguna) requested the department to submit a matrix on the payment of right-of-way claims for the past five years.
Rep. Antonino-Custodio also asked the DPWH to provide a list of claims in her region separate from the matrix of outstanding claims.l