Tapping sense of shame in government infrastructure implementation
Last December, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III announced that as part of the Duterte administration’s effort to protect the government’s massive infrastructure program from graft and corruption, in keeping with the Freedom of Information order of President Duterte, a website to inform the public about the details and progress of the projects will be set up. It will contain drone images and financial contract information of the projects.
There are no updates on the planned measure available online but in the event it was carried out, I would like to suggest that it covers projects from say P10 million up and also to include additional features.
Or if it has been discontinued, I urge Dominguez to pursue the intention because the easy monitoring of projects by any interested person is one effective deterrent to graft and corruption and ineptness. The following features should be incorporated though:
Information on projects should remain in the website permanently. The rationale is that awareness of the availability of evidence of the quality or lack of quality of their work to anyone and at anytime will serve as an encouragement to the people involved in the implementation of government projects to do their work well or be identified with a shoddy output for good.
Relative to the preceding, the documentation of the project should not stop after the construction but it should be updated periodically or as need arises until the end of the life span of the structure.
This would apprise the public of the condition of the structure as time goes by especially of damages resulting from corruption or sloppy work. This way, the quality of the project could not be hidden nor forgotten.
Most importantly, the project files in the website should include all the names of the key people involved in the undertaking namely government engineers, contractors, the Department of Public Works and Highways secretary and other concerned DPWH officials, including the regional director and district engineer, and also local officials namely the congressman, governor, mayor and barangay captain.
Government engineers are generally a notorious lot but if they are aware that their names will be stuck with a project forever, they may be forced to turn in passable output. It just might awaken them to the likelihood their grandchildren will be ashamed of their body of work and even deny they are related with the builder.
The inclusion of their names in the permanent file of the project available to anyone in the world at any time while the internet exists could enlist the support of their families for proper government project implementation as nobody would want his family name ruined especially if in exchange for money.
The above goes with the contractor. Since construction companies could change their names, the name of the owner of the company should be indicated in the file.
In the case of the engineers and the contractors, the website should be so designed so that when their names are clicked, all the government projects they participated in will come up. This way the public would be aware of their track records as builders.
The inclusion of the name of the DPWH secretary in the file is to show the world what infrastructure standard he demanded or tolerated and would tell the public if his crusade for transparency and proper project implementation is for real or phony.
It is really one ugly fact of life in this country that local officials do not mind engineers and contractors treating their political territories with impunity and contempt by strewing it with substandard and at times, practically nonfunctional, government structures.
There is also the possibility that they are part of the corruption themselves. The mention of their names in the project file just might force them to rethink their irresponsible and unpatriotic attitude.
The power of the website to protect government infrastructure projects from corruption and ineptness lies in its permanently sticking the identities of those involved in the project with the infrastructure in files readily available to the public.
Even granting that there are DPWH engineers whose senses are so deadened they could take the linkage, it is highly doubtful that any member of their families will take kindly to the negative exposure.
Ditto with all the other personalities associated with the project including the mayor and barangay captain who think there’s nothing reprehensible in outsiders constructing substandard or practically useless government infrastructures in their communities and under their very noses.
ESTANISLAO C. ALBANO JR.,
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.