Del Mar storms out of RDC meeting but vows to get Congress’ approval

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita March 16,2018 - 11:40 PM

WALKOUT. Cebu City North District Rep. Raul Del Mar (right) walks out from the Regional Development Council (RDC) full council meeting at the Montebello Villa Hotel on Friday because of the non inclusion of the civil works of three underpass projects that he is proposing on the DPWH-7 programs, activities and projects (PAPs) for 2019.


When members of the Regional Development Council (RDC)-7 refused to outright endorse around P16 billion worth of underpass projects pushed by Cebu City North District Rep. Raul Del Mar, they had a clear message to tell – that they are not mere rubber stamps.

RDC 7 Co-Chairperson Kenneth Cobonpue pointed this out after Del Mar walked out from yesterday’s RDC-7 full council meeting at Montebello Villa Hotel.

RDC Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) Head Glenn Soco for his part, said that there was a need to hit the brakes in the construction of more underpass projects in Cebu especially after the inconvenience brought about by an ongoing underpass project along Natalio Bacalso Ave. and another one to be implemented along UN Ave in Mandaue.

“Many of our lives were changed overnight when N. Bacalso was closed for the underpass project. We are not a stamp pad. We want what is good for

the people and not just because a politician or agency says this is good for us,” Cobonpue told reporters after the incident.
Del Mar walked out after finding out that his proposals for the construction of at least three underpass projects in the city’s north district were not included in the final list of programs, actvities and projects (PAPs) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 for 2019 which was endorsed by the RDC yesterday.

Instead, the RDC replaced these with much smaller allocations for the conduct of feasibility studies for a more generic “road capacity enhancement” in the three areas where the underpass projects proposed by Del Mar are located.

During the discussion, Del Mar said that the PAPs approved by the RDC 7 yesterday was different from the original proposal he signed last January. He lamented that he was not consulted or informed about the changes considering he was consulted in the original one.

The proposed projects

The original proposals included an 8.2-kilometer underpass that would connect D. Jakosalem to Barangay Talamban (P9.2 billion); a 3.5-kilometer underpass connecting S. Osmena Road to Salinas Drive (P3.9 billion); and a 2.6-kilometer underpass from Ayala Access Road to F. Cabahug St. (P2.9 billion).

In the PAPs approved and endorsed yesterday, these were changed to feasibility studies for “road capacity enhancement” in the same areas. The proposed amounts were reduced to P554 million, P236 million, and P174 million respectively.

When Del Mar sought clarification on this, Soco explained that the entire P127.8 billion PAPs of DPWH-7 for 2019 was reviewed by a technical working group of the IDC which convened last March 7.

“We were concerned that the department may not be able to handle all of these additional depressed structure and underpass projects considering there’s an existing underpass project in N. Bacalso and another one to be implemented in UN Ave. If we include these (additional) underpass projects, it may be too much for the department and likewise the public to handle,” Soco said.

But Del Mar tried to explain that he had been talking with DPWH officials and even Secretary Mark Villar himself about these projects and that there are already feasibility studies currently being undertaken by the DPWH and expected to be completed this year.

He said the reason why budgets for actual construction should be endorsed for next year is to ensure that after completing the feasibility studies this year, there would already be available funds for the DPWH to start construction next year.

This was when Cobonpue spoke and ruled to just “note” Del Mar’s objection to the approval of DPWH’s PAPs.

He said that these concerns and issues should have been addressed at the committee levels, specifically the IDC, wherein the DPWH is the co-chairperson and where there are experts as members.

Del Mar banks on Congress to OK projects

“If things are going to work this way, it’s better we don’t attend meetings here anymore if our sentiments are not considered and we just go on,” Del Mar said.

By then, Del Mar excused himself to step out of the meeting. But before leaving, he warned that even after the RDC-7 endorsement, the list of projects will still end up in Congress, for final approval.

“Don’t begrudge us if we also do changes there in Congress,” he said while later on stressing that he will really push for the inclusion of budgets for construction of the underpasses in Congress.

A furious Del Mar then said he does not plan on attending future meetings of the RDC-7.

Sought for comment on Del Mar’s warning, Cobonpue said they will just deal with it saying “it is another battle.”

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TAGS: approval, Congress, Del Mar, meeting, RDC, storms, vows
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