After a year of thriving in an economy crippled by the pandemic, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) held its very first virtual Multi-Sectoral Governance Council (MSGC) meeting for a performance review and to report the direction of its strategic roadmap during the global crisis.
Key officials and members of the MSGC gathered for the Executive Talk for Performance Governance System (PGS) plenary sessions opened by a video message by DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar. Leading the discussion on the High Impact Projects and the COVID-19 Related Response Programs was PGS Chairperson and Undersecretary (Usec.) Ma. Catalina E. Cabral.
While many sectors were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Usec. Cabral said that the department’s operations remained unhampered by the health crisis. She added that public infrastructure projects played a huge role in driving the economic growth, even outperforming private construction developments.
Apart from the department’s high impact projects including the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge and the BGC Ortigas Center Link Road Project which helped them overcome the pandemic, Usec. Cabral said that the department mobilized its response program and relentlessly pushed its COVID-19 related infrastructure projects while following strict quarantine protocols. The department generated a total of 720 quarantine facilities and off-site dormitories with over 26,000 total bed capacity which helped make up for the shortage of hospital beds during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mr. Bernardo Villegas of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) and member of the MSGC, shared that apart from pushing for infrastructure projects in highly-urbanized areas, the department should also concentrate on helping bring down poverty incidence in the country. To support this sentiment, Usec. Cabral shared the department’s farm-to-market and farm-to-mills projects in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture to help alleviate poverty in the countryside. She also showcased how the department generated employment opportunities in the construction industry for overseas Filipino workers who were laid off due to the pandemic.
To give the members a quick overview of the department’s financial profile, Finance Service OIC-Director Genevieve E. Cuaresma reported the 2020 DPWH Budget Utilization and Approved Budget for 2021. Meanwhile, Mr. Rhalf Cawaling of the Information Management Service unit delved deep on DPWH’s Digitization and Modernization efforts including the Civil Works Application and eBid Portal, which allow contractors to update their documents real-time and submit bids online amid travel restrictions, respectively. Members of the MSGC also praised the department for their efforts to pursue information technology training and research in their internship program to address the increasing demand for more manpower in the construction sector.
To cap-off the report, Regional Director Eric Ayapana presented the road network and improvements in the National Capital Region with the continuous reactivation of public transport. Under its Build, Build, Build Program, the DPWH National Capital Region hired additional 108 personnel to its team and created more employment opportunities for Filipinos in other regions amid the pandemic.
Ultimately, members of the MSGC expressed their support for the goals of the department and commended its comprehensive approach to their presentation. Leveraging on a multi-sector collaboration between private and public sectors has been proven to produce immediate and positive results over the years. As the nation continues to persevere through the ongoing crisis, the partnership of the DPWH with its stakeholders through the MSGC remains to be a key step in creating substantial impact and providing efficient service for the Filipino people.