Velasco urges PACC to send corruption report to Ombudsman

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 30, 2020   •   596

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco urged the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to submit to the Office of the Ombudsman their report on the alleged involvement of several lawmakers in anomalies at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Pursuant to due process, we believe that the matter should be brought before the Ombudsman, given the limited jurisdiction of the PACC over officials in the Executive Branch, and not those in the legislature,” he said.

In a statement on Tuesday (December 29), Velasco said the President made it clear that there is a presumption of innocence and such announcement was not an indictment. He also remind the public “not take it as gospel truth that it’s true.”

Based on reports, Velasco said the House members included in the PACC list claimed that none of the representatives from PACC have invited them for questioning.

“It appears that the PACC has not made any investigation as to the veracity of the accusations against them since they belong to another branch of government, which is not within the authority of the Commission,” Velasco said. AAC

House to pass bill on vaccine indemnity fund on Feb. 22 – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to approve on Monday, February 22, a bill seeking to establish an indemnification fund and expedite the procurement of vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the lower chamber is expected to pass House Bill No. 8648 on second and third readings after the measure was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As soon as we were apprised that the indemnification fund is a requirement of the vaccine manufacturers, we wasted no time in filing House Bill 8648, which would allow emergency procurement of vaccines and provide the required indemnification fund,” Velasco said in a statement.

House Bill 8648 proposes to provide exemptions to compliance by local government units with the procurement requirements under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act in the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and other much-needed supplies during the pandemic.

The bill pushes for the vaccines to be exempted from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, and other fees, provided that the shots to be acquired by LGUs “shall only be used for their residents and constituents, and not for commercial distribution.”

The bill is now up for second reading after it was approved by the Committee on Appropriations and sponsored in plenary.

Aside from the vaccine indemnification bill, Velasco said the House is also prepared to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act (Bayanihan 3), which proposes a P420-billion fund for the implementation of much-needed COVID-19 response and recovery interventions.

The proposal also includes a P25-billion budget for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.

The House speaker said the lower chamber has always been supportive of the national government’s efforts to fight COVID-19 noting the passage of the 2021 national budget, which includes a P72.5 billion allocation for vaccine procurement, as well as the Bayanihan 1 and 2.

“Rest assured that the House will continue to pass legislation that would help sustain the national government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic, so we can all return to normal at the soonest possible time,” he said.

P1.2-B allocated for study of 82 big-ticket projects – DPWH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 82 projects are currently under feasibility studies, preliminary, detailed engineering design, economic analysis, technical studies, and traffic impact assessment, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the DPWH said these projects have received an allocation of P1.23 billion under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said that in Luzon alone, 33 proposed projects have received study funding – the Samson Road to NLEX Connector Link Project under DPWH National Capital Region costing P36.9 Million and the Alaminos-Lucap Bypass Road in Pangasinan costing P11 Million for Region 1.

The Cordillera Administrative Region has received funding for seven projects costing P94.4 Million which cover Mongol-Nalbu-Alimit-Nattum-Dulao Road and Boliwog-Abinuan-Alimit (Mayoyao) Road among others, he added.

Region 2 also received P37.5 million for the study of four projects covering Baybayog Bypass Road and Quezon-Delfin Abano Road.

Region 3 received P60 million for four projects covering San Miguel-Cabanatuan Road and San Leonardo-San Antonio Bypass Road and Concepcion-Mabalacat Bypass Road among others.

In Region 4-A, seven projects received P126.3 million which include the Batangas Grand Terminal Flyover, Cavite-Batangas Bypass Road, and Tanza-Nasugbu Road.

Four projects in Region 4-B costing P68.6 million covering Sablayan-Sta. Cruz Diversion Road and Lubang Island Circumferential Road.

Region 5 received P47.1 million for five projects, which include the Sipocot Bypass Road and Mabolo-Almeda Bypass Road among others.

In Visayas, the DPWH allocated funding for studies of 19 projects which is composed of three in Region 6 costing P66.4 million covering Capiz-Aklan Coastal Road among others; six in Region 7 costing P106.2 million which covers Pamplona-Tanjay City-Bayawan City Road and Mambaling South Boulevard; and 10 projects in Region 8 costing P108.9 million inclusive of Baybay-McArthur Road and Nabang-Gadgaran Diversion Road.

For Mindanao, 29 projects received appropriation including the four projects in Region 9 costing P71.4 million which cover Sirawai-Tungawan Diversion Road in Zamboanga del Norte and Putik-Campo Island Diversion Road in Zamboanga City; 11 projects in Region 10 costing P160.4 million covering Iligan City-Magsaysay Agri-Industrial Road and Dansolihan-Camp Kibaritan-Languindingan Road; four in Region 11 costing P51.5 million covering Panacan-Bunawan Flyover and Tagum City-Sto. Tomas Diversion Road; two in Region 12 costing P17.4 million inclusive of Bolebak-Pansud Alternate Road and Midsayap-Libungan Bypass Road; and eight in Region 13 which include the Libanga-San Miguel Road and NRJ Santiago-Cantilan Road among others.

The Poblacion Sta. Maria-Malungon Road, an inter-regional road connecting Davao del Sur to Sarangani has also received study funding in the amount of P17.4 million, the DPWH said.

“On top of thousands of ongoing projects under DPWH, 82 new high-impact projects are being studied so we can further improve road network across the country,” Villar said.

“Timely studies are crucial to successful project development as they lay the foundation for the implementation of civil works phase,” he added.

Trucks temporarily not allowed on Nagtahan Flyover starting Feb. 20

Marje Pelayo   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Starting February 20, all trucks and trailers are temporarily prohibited from crossing Nagtahan Flyover due to cracks in some sections of the structure.

According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), only light vehicles will be allowed while repairs are being done on the defective portion of the flyover.

DPWH Ncr Director Eric Ayapana said the cracks began to manifest in December. 

“Iyong mga crack lumitaw iyan after ng earthquake noong December 25. Ang epicenter natin that time is sa Batangas,” Ayapana said.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) appeals for public understanding and advises motorists to take alternative routes as heavy traffic flow in the area is expected throughout the duration of the repair.

“We are expecting this so naglagay kami ng mga traffic enforcers doon sa mga rerouting na sinabi nga namin pero for the public sana understanding na lang,” asked MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos.

“Safety […] it’s the foremost in our mind,” he added. MNP / JP Nunez

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