AS President Duterte has vowed to completely stop corruption in the country, I’m making use of this space to call on the PNP leadership headed by General Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa to once and for all put a stop to the bad practice by some officials in previous administrations to construct substandard police buildings and other facilities just to fill in their pockets at the expense of the government and taxpayers. Many call it ‘PNP engineering malversation.’
Just like substandard roads, bridges and other government buildings and facilities constructed in the past, police have not been spared from such anomalous practice to the consternation of the end-users, the police uniformed and non-uniformed personnel who occupy these buildings and most importantly, the public.
At present, the PNP Engineering Service is constructing a ‘one-stop shop’ for clients of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office and the Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies just beside Camp Crame’s Gate 1 in EDSA. Officials privy to the construction of the new building have told me they are praying that the facility would conform to real government and private standards and would stand the test of time.
I hope their prayers would be answered after the ‘one-stop shop’ is finished and tested by the elements. That means it should have enough ventilation, it won’t have leaking roofs when it rains, its tiles won’t crack open due to lack of cement, its paint won’t easily fade away due to use of sub-standard paint materials, its sewer system functioning perfectly, its toilets are world-class and complete with videts and running water, it’s power lines can withstand electricity overload which is a common problem in the camp, its roof would be sturdy enough to battle heavy wind and many more problems in the future.
These problems are common in Camp Crame where the PNP Engineering Service is in-charge of constructing PNP buildings, stations and other facilities supposedly in accordance with standard government procedures. However, many officials have told me that buildings constructed by the Unit in the past easily deteriorate reportedly due to the use of substandard materials.
They include the PNP Training Service building said to have been built at a cost of P100 million during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration; the PNP transformation oval which has to be repaired again this year since it has deteriorated due to constant use; the oven-like PNP gymnasium; the PNP mortuary; and many more facilities inside Camp Crame whose main problem is leaking roof resulting in damaged ceiling and appliances. One source told me that some PNP Engineering Service officers are now facing administrative investigation by the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management regarding alleged irregularities in the construction of the ‘one-stop shop.’
The rainy season always poses a problem to many Camp Crame residents and visitors. At the PNP national headquarters alone, I have been privy to the presence of many offices of generals and colonels with leaking roofs prompting them to order patch-up jobs which naturally won’t solve the problem. Yearly, you will see many PNP units having their roofs patched up and repainted just to see rainwater falling down like ‘waterfall’ in their air-conditioned offices during the rainy period. They include newly-constructed buildings with already clogged sewer system rendering toilets and bathrooms unavailable for use.
Before the PNP gymnasium was hit by a small fire a few years ago, it was well-ventilated. After it was renovated, it’s cooling system/big exhaust fans completely disappeared without a trace making it a gym without exhaust fans, thus the heat specifically during the summer period would completely exhaust you and make you perspire terribly particularly at noontime. If you like going to a sauna, try going to the Crame gym at noontime and just sit in a corner. Believe me.
At least two former directors of the PNP Headquarters Support Service once told me they discovered that not all the G.I. roofs of the PNP gymnasium were brand-new. One of the two generals said that he was infuriated after discovering while doing the rounds of the gym that some of its roofs were old GI sheets mixed with the brand-new sheets. After the general blew his top, the old roofs were repainted to make them look like new. ‘Only in the Philippines.’
Many other newly-built or renovated facilities inside the PNP national headquarters also have the same problem. One officer recently told me that he was surprised to find out that the canopy of the newly-repaired PNP mortuary was fashioned out from ordinary plywood and not covered by GI sheets to protect them from rainwater. Let’s see what happens come June.
The PNP Training Service should also be a subject of a complete study. Months after it was built, its roofs were already leaking, its front canopy is a mess, and many of its tiles have cracked and need repair. Once, its elevator completely malfunctioned trapping nearly a dozen members of PMA ‘Dimalupig’ Class of 1981 led by future PNP chief General Alan Purisima and Gen. Dindo Espina for more than an hour.
Clearly, the same thing is happening in other police buildings and facilities outside Camp Crame because of the use of sub-standard materials. This also has happened in all PNP and Armed Forces housing units constructed in the country during the previous Macapagal-Arroyo and Aquino administrations but that would be another story.