Gov't defends P7.8-M Luneta flagpole

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at Aug 28 2013 10:20 AM | Updated as of Aug 29 2013 03:03 AM

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MANILA – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) on Wednesday defended the nearly P8 million flagpole set to be built in Rizal Park.

The flagpole, priced at P7,865,425.03, was recently the subject of a social media firestorm due to its supposed high price.

Several social media users who posted the DPWH billboard of the project indicating the project cost said the price of the flagpole is not justified and was too high for a country where many are living in poor conditions.

In an interview with dzMM, DPWH – National Capital Region Director Reynaldo Tagudando said the price of the flagpole is justified and the project underwent proper public bidding.

"Based iyan sa aming canvass, kaya okay lang ho iyong presyo niyan. Ipapakita namin lahat ng dokumento namin," he said.

Tagudando said the 150 feet height of the flagpole is supposed to represent the 150th birth anniversary of Jose Rizal, the Philippines' national hero.

Tagudando said the 150-ft tall flagpole made in China will replace the existing 105-ft tall flagpole in the park.

He added that the P7.8 million cost of the flagpole also covers its base and installation using a crane. The new flagpole will also feature a mechanized pulley.

The construction of the flagpole was awarded to AKH Construction and Trading Corp. through public bidding.

Meanwhile, NPDC executive director Juliet Villegas said the 150-flagpole will be considered the National Flagpole of the Philippines, replacing the old one which was built way back in the 1940s.

"Ang Luneta is a must-see destination ng ating mga turista. Ang pag-aayos sa [flagpole] ay naaayon sa structural analysis at ito ay magiging safe," she said.

The project was conceived in 2011 in anticipation of the centennial anniversary of Jose Rizal Monument in December 2013.

The issue on the flagpole came amid public outrage on the misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" given to lawmakers. Last August 26, a massive rally was held in Luneta to call for the total abolition of the lump sum funds.