ROW CONCERNS HAMPER ROAD PROJECTS IN C. VISAYAS
RIGHT OF WAY. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 (Central Visayas) Regional Director Edgar Tabacon explains to district engineers the current thrusts of the Duterte administration under its Build, Build, Build program during its presentation of plans, activities, and programs of the agency for fiscal year 2020, last January. (File photo by John Rey Saavedra)
CEBU CITY — Acquiring properties as right of way (ROW) has become a big challenge for existing and future infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration in Central Visayas, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Wednesday.
DPWH 7 (Central Visayas) Director Edgar Tabacon said the widening, opening, and construction of roads and bridges have been affected by the ROW acquisition issues, especially when property owners affected by public works would not cooperate with the government.
Most of the projects with ROW-related concerns, Tabacon said, are meant to solve traffic congestion in Metro Cebu.
“All of us experience traffic congestion. It’s because our existing roads have already exceeded their capacity. Nagkadaghan ang atong mga vehicles (The number of vehicles is increasing). So we need more roads,” he said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Tabacon, however, said the problem arises when property owners contest the “just compensation” the department pegged under its ROW program through expropriation proceedings in court.
He said another issue is when the court would not entertain an expropriation case if the agency could not present a certificate of availability of funds (CAF) intended for just compensation.
“And ato lang nga kung puede kahatagan og special attention ang nga hearing sa mga (My appeal is that concerned agencies should give special attention to the hearings of) expropriation cases in support of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of President Duterte,” Tabacon said.
All expropriation cases of the national government are handled by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) but the judiciary has no special court that exclusively hears such cases for quick disposition of ROW for government infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile, DPWH-7 Assistant Director Mario Montejo said while their office is ready to roll out government infrastructure projects, they need to follow certain procedures in paying compensation to affected property owners.
“What we do now is to appeal to the property owners nga dili lang ta lisudlisoron sa right of way kay ang project para ra man pud sa ilang benefit (that they should not make it difficult for us to acquire right of way because the projects are for their benefit),” Montejo said. (PNA)