Palafox denies calling DPWH corrupt

Posted at 01/08/2014 7:09 PM | Updated as of 01/08/2014 7:49 PM

MANILA - Urban planner and architect Jun Palafox on Wednesday expressed full support for Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and denied saying that the Department of Public Works and Highways is corrupt.

In a statement, Palafox denied accusing DPWH of corruption when he said bunkhouses for survivors of supertyphoon "Yolanda" was below international standards.

"In the light of some news that may make it appear I'm accusing DPWH of corruption in the building of bunkhouses, I'd like to clarify that I didn't make such accusations. I only commented on the shelters for survivors being undersized and substandard based our international experience and standards," he said.

Palafox earlier said the designs he saw when he visited the bunkhouses for Yolanda victims last December showed disregard for the safety and decency for the families that will be living there.

The architect said the international standard for bunkhouses must be at least 22 square meters per unit, with at least three bedrooms, windows for proper ventilation, floor level must be one meter above the floodline, and materials should not be a fire hazard.

What he saw in Visayas bunkhouses, Palafox said, is nowhere near those standards with each unit less than 9 square meters, only two small bedrooms, poor ventilation, and the materials used such as plywood are fire hazards.

For his part, Singson denied reports that the bunkhouses are overpriced especially since contractors who built the bunkhouses would not be making a profit.

He told reporters he would resign if the accusation is proven to be true.

Palafox said Singson has his trust and confidence especially since he used to work for the public works chief when the latter was still chairman of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The urban planner said Singson called him yesterday "and admitted he was not made aware of the international standards and he himself went to the disaster to check and initiated to improve the designs and specifications based on international standards."

Palafox said he hopes and prays that Singson will not resign his post but will maintain his role as DPWH secretary.

"I had worked with him before when he was BCDA chairman with NO Corruption. He is a professional and a gentleman.We need him in our nation building," he said.

For his part, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he had spoken to Palafox who was appreciative that Secretary Singson has made the corrections to the unit size of the bunkhouses. "The 17.28 square meter per unit in the 12 unit bunkhouse is, for him, acceptable," he said.

Lacierda confirmed that the bunkhouses do not meet the international standard of having at least 20 square meters per unit. He, however, said the structures comply with the Philippine building code.

"We’re following our standards. We don’t necessarily have to follow international standards. Because our concern is safety, our concern is it should not be congested," he said.

He said the bunkhouses are temporary and that government is also building permanent homes.