P100-M Albay airport road project starts soon

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LEGAZPI CITY (7-April-2013/PNA)- A P100-million airport road construction project will soon start after the Department of Public Works and Highways regional office here bid it out on March 5.

The project forms part of the Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi (Guicadale) road network connected to the ongoing P4-billion South Luzon International Airport (SLIA) that President Benigno S. Aquino III wants completed by next year.

The SLIA is located in Barangay Anobo in the neighboring town of Daraga, Albay.

The bidding, however, has widened the rift between two powerful politicians in Albay who both claim credit for the release of the fund.

It was reportedly won by a certain Dennis Macandog of Verzontal Builders.

Macandog is a protege of Gov. Joey Salceda, the proponent of the SLIA.

According to him, he won the project in a competitive bidding.

He admitted being identified with Salceda, adding that the P100 million funding is part of the series of releases expected for the completion of the airport road projects, whose funding, he claimed, passes through the Regional Development Council chaired by Salceda.

But Rep. Al Francis Bichara (Albay, 2nd district) complained that the P100-million fund was the subject of his letter request for funding on June 15, 2012 to DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.

A letter-reply dated Oct. 10, 2012 from Singson addressed to Bichara acknowledged the congressman’s letter-request for funding in the amount of P100 million, which said “for the upgrading from gravel to concrete a 5-kilometer road known as the Guicadale platoon road.”

The road passes through the Mayon–Bigao–San Vicente–Ibaugan–Gogon section, all within the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, and Daraga in Albay.

Bichara particularly assailed reports that he had been settled for P8 million to keep silent on the P100-million fund release.

According to him, “I am making noises now because the project has been bid out by the DPWH without me knowing about it. I just hope the contractor and the DPWH will strictly implement it according to standards.”

He warned that he would strictly monitor the works.

A source, speaking on condition that his name be withheld, said many contractors identified with Bichara had wanted to participate in the bidding for the P100 million airport road project.

He added that these contractors, however, failed to do so on suspicion that the fund was made through the efforts of Salceda, the known proponent of the airport project.

According to Macandog, there is nothing to talk about the project, saying the funding release was part of the governor’s efforts as the government is rushing completion of the SLIA.

He said he knew nothing about Bichara’s claim such as the alleged P8 million payoff, saying it was the Makapa Construction owner, Carlos Loria, whom he entrusted to settle the problem about the P100-million fund even before the scheduled bidding.

Interviewed for comment, Loria merely acknowledged that it was his license that was used by Macandog in the P100-million bidding. He refused to elaborate.

On the other hand, Salceda said he is not after the credit for the release of the P100-million funding, saying fund releases for roads in connection with the airport construction continue because the President wants it completed by next year, considering that it has been delayed for almost three years now. (PNA)

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