Idle funds for proposed flyovers in Cebu City may be returned to the national government by the end of the year.
This scenario was raised by the Departmet of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) – Central Visayas in Tuesday ‘s dialog with citizens opposing the projects through the Movement for a Livable Cebu (MLC).
About P600 million was budgeted for two flyovers in Gorordo Avenue near the Asilo dela Milagrosa, and one in the intersection fo M.J. Cuenco-General Maxilom Avenue in barangay Mabolo.
Both projects were already bidded out to contractors by the DPWH, but due to vigorous opposition from several quarters, including Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, they remain suspended on orders of Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
DPWH Regional Director Ador Canlas told MLC members that a July 31 deadline was set by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to use funds under the 2011 approved budget or else the funds would be reverted to the national government by the end of the year.
“Allotments usually have a two-year validity so that these 2011 funds are valid until December 31, 2012. However, DBM issued a circular requiring us to obligate all CY 2011 funds to increase our absorptive capacity,” Canlas explained in a text message to Cebu Daily News.
If not complied, the money will be returned to coffers of the national government.
“If we can’t obligate it, they may transfer the funds to other agencies who can use it and who are in need,” said Canlas.
Canlas, however, maintained that the proposed flyover near Mabolo church has not yet been bidded out.
He said he sent to the central office in Manila this week the report with the Project Management and Procurement Plan (PMPP) containing a revised schedule for bidding.
Canlas suggested to the MLC to achieve a “stronger voice” as a watchdog by becoming members of the Cebu City Development Council and the Regional Development Council.
The meeting , held in the DPWH 7 conference room, took up concerns about flyovers and lack of public consultation.
The MLC recognized the agency’s effort to reach out and listen.
“It seems that he (Canlas) is very open to listening to our issues and concerns. It also feels like he’s willing to try new ways of partnering,” said Teresa Dosdos Ruelas, OIC lead convenor of the movement.
The group called for a review of previously approved infrastructure projects, such as flyovers.
Canlas said these projects were all endorsed and approved by the previous DPWH regional director. He urged the movement to focus on future projects.
“I totally agree that we need to look forward to 2013 but you can’t keep your eye off what’s going to happen to 2011 budget. You really have to keep an eye on it because we know that certain parties who have certain agenda will keep driving it,” said Ruelas in an interview later.
The MLC lamented that homeowners near the proposed flyover sites were not consulted before plans were completed, and only learned about it through the news media.
Canlas explained that the DPWH could not conduct individual consultations.
“Once the DPWH secures the endorsement of the CDC and RDC, that means they have complied with all the requirements. Prior to endorsement, the development councils are expected to have conducted the consultation,” he said.
Architect Joy Onozawa, a founding member of MLC, asked why DPWH road projects don’t prioritize pedestrians and bicycle riders.
Canlas cited a study by an Australian group on Philippine roads which concluded that roads were not pedestrian-friendly.
The International Road Assessment Program (IRAP) study recommended prioritizing pedestrian refuge islands, pedestrian barriers, sidewalks or pedestrian footpaths, said Canlas.’
He said DPWH considered bike lanes but a Department of Interior and Local Governmetn Order prohibits bicycles from plying national roads.
Representatives of MLC during the meeting included Rudy Alix, Louella Alix, lawyer Gloria Ramos, Becky Smith, Sister Letty Derilo of the Asilo dela Milagrosa, Teresita Manguerra, Macrina Bas, and Purita Matugas.
Also attending the meeting were Raffy Yap of the City Traffic Operations and Management (Citom) and Dindin Bollozos of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inf.
Representing DPWH 7 were Canlas, Engr. Nonato Paylado, OIC of the Planning and Design Division, and Engr. Lea Legre also from the Planning and Design Division. /Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua, Correspondent