SENATOR Panfilo M. Lacson on Monday said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) cannot proceed with projects without settling right-of-way issues, as required by law.
At a DPWH budget hearing in the Senate Mr. Lacson said Republic Act 10752 or the Right of Way Act requires prior acquisition of right of way, and that some construction has proceeded in parallel with unsettled right of way, leading to delays of some public works projects.
“We’re not complying with the provisions of (RA) 10752 because it’s clear in the Right of Way Act. The DPWH shall ensure that all RoW expenses are settled before commencement of projects. So we’re not complying with the law,” he said.
Mr. Lacson then cited the suspended P466.8 million bypass diversion road project in Sariaya, Quezon, where right of way has not yet been secured.
“These are owners with titles to their land but up to now they have not yet been paid, and the project has been suspended since March 2016,” he said.
In an interview with reporters, Mr. Lacson said he may seek the removal once again of right-of-way appropriations to the DPWH under the proposed 2019 budget if the agency has not addressed the issues. The senator last year proposed a P50 billion reduction in the 2018 DPWH budget over right-of-way issues.
Under its proposed 2019 budget, the DPWH has allocated around P16 billion for right-of-way payments covering completed and future projects.
If the right of way remains unsettled, “we will have it deleted,” Mr. Lacson said.
DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar said: “These things are not necessarily anticipated at the time of planning. During the course of the implementation of these projects there are issues that arise that we don’t anticipate but nevertheless those were the causes for delays.” — Camille A. Aguinaldo