Citizens’ participatory audit, anyone?

By February 4, 2024Andromeda's Vortex

By Farah G. Decano


THE numerous road elevations and drainage installations going on simultaneously in Dagupan City are negatively affecting countless residents and business owners.  They are either forced to cough out significant amounts of money or incur loans to cope with these infrastructure changes.  Not only are the affected sectors financially hemorrhaging, the entire citizenry is also distressed by the constant traffic congestion, the dust, the noise, and several rerouting schemes.

No one, therefore, can say that only those who are directly prejudiced by the ongoing infrastructure projects should have an interest in their outcome.  All Dagupeños are invested in these anti-flood endeavors of the government.  Our collective prayer is that the private contractors hired by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and by the City will religiously perform their contracts to the letter.

Although we should expect the City and the DPWH to monitor every detail of the projects, it is better that we, the private sector, help them from committing costly mistakes by being vigilant and observant of ongoing road works.

We should help the Commission on Audit in the inspection of the quality of the roads. The public has an interest in making sure that the cemented roads have the proper concrete strength that can withstand frequent torrential rains and heavy vehicles. We have heard of the so-called chocolate-coated polvoron roads – nice and hard on the outside but powdery inside.  We do not want this to happen to these newly-constructed thoroughfares in the city.

I hope that Mayor Belen or Atty. Ope Reyna of the Dagupan City People’s Council, can create a Citizen’s Participatory Monitoring and Audit Team (CPMAT) composed of certified public accountants, lawyers, civil engineers, and physicists.  This is one way where the private sector can demonstrate their malasakit to the city.  Perhaps, the Pangasinan chapters of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), and the Philippine Physics Society (PPS) can nominate competent members to the CPMAT, if organized.

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I see the wisdom of the ongoing infrastructure elevations.  The city must keep the routes passable especially during emergencies.  It will be difficult for government to respond to crisis situations when there are no accessible paths.   The use of costly helicopters, motorboats and bancas may not be as responsive to urgent situations.

The last elevation of Arellano Street in Dagupan City was either in late 2008 or early 2009.  The roads were raised by almost two feet.  But only several months after its inauguration, it was inundated by floods caused by tropical storm Pepeng and the simultaneous release of water coming from various dams.  The streets were submerged in two to six feet water in many parts of the city.  It took me two long days to get out of our flooded village, rented a boat and truck on my account so that I could, as a councilor, attend to the needs of my constituents.  It made me think during that time, “Kulang pa pala ang elevation.”

Now that we are at the height of ongoing road constructions, there is public anxiety that future flood waters may be kept off the streets and highways but the same will be collected in lower lying properties everywhere else.  What may be considered a public problem now might soon be “privatized.” 

I have heard of this justification – because there are embankments that will prevent rainfall on public roads from flowing to private properties, the downpour on the latter properties should therefore be the sole responsibility of the owners.  This argument is not only unacceptable but outright offensive.  The government is tasked to provide a suitable and properly designed road and water drainage system and the citizenry should not be obligated to defend itself from any wrongful actions or omissions by the government. #

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