The Department of Works and Highways (DPWH) clarified that local water districts (LWDs) have concurrent and equal right-of-way (ROW) with them in national roads for construction and maintenance of their water pipes and other utility works.
Said clarification comes after General Manager Elmer Luzon of San Francisco WD wrote a letter expressing his opinion on DPWH Department Order no. 73, s. 2014 which prohibits uses within the ROW of national roads.
GM Luzon said that Section 29 of Presidential Decree 198, as amended, expressly grants an encompassing ROW in favour of LWDs to construct and maintain works on any land owned or may be owned in the future by the government, or any of its political subdivisions and instrumentality.
He also asserted that Section 23 of PD 17 (Revised Philippine Highway Act, amending Philippine Highway Act of Nineteen Hundred Fifty Three) is not applicable to LWDs on the ground that their use of ROW is for the benefit of the public and does not threaten public safety nor cause obstruction on prompt delivery of basic goods and services.
In reply to GM Luzon’s opinions, Director IV Estrella Decena-Zaldivar of the DPWH’s Legal Service said that DO 73 does not apply to LWDs.
“The use of ROW is not exclusive to the department. Hence, by implication, WDs have concurrent ROW with the DPWH,” the director explained.
During the 2nd quarter meeting of the PAWD leadership, GM Luzon said that in addition to the equal ROW of the DPWH and LWDs, the DPWH is mandated to pay for demolished/affected structures of LWDs during their road widening projects.
He also added that, similar to his experience, the DPWH should also cover the costs if transfering of LWD structures are needed.
In the latter part of 2014, PAWD received reports that some DPWH Regional Offices have not issued permits for excavations for pipeline expansion, rehabilitation, or replacement, unless the LWDs shall acquire the properties/lots for the location of their facilities outside the road ROW.
Said incident has caused undue delays in the implementation of projects that affected the provision of water services to communities served by LWDs. (Karlo Abarquez)