Department of Public Works and Highways
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|Kagawaran ng mga Pagawain at Lansangang Pambayan|
|Formed||January 24, 1899 (under the First Republic)|
January 30, 1981 (present form)
|Headquarters||Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila|
|Annual budget||₱290.5 billion (2015)|
The Philippines' Department of Public Works and Highways (Filipino: Kagawaran ng mga Pagawain at Lansangang Pambayan), abbreviated as DPWH, is the executive department of the Philippine government solely vested with the Mandate to “be the State's engineering and construction arm” and, as such, it is “tasked to carry out the policy” of the State to “maintain an engineering and construction arm and continuously develop its technology, for the purposes of ensuring the safety of all infrastructure facilities and securing for all public works and highways the highest efficiency and the most appropriate quality in construction” and shall be responsible for “(t)he planning, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure facilities, especially national highways, flood control and water resources development systems, and other public works in accordance with national development objectives,” provided that, the exercise of which “shall be decentralized to the fullest extent feasible.” 
History of the DPWH stretches back as far as the history of Philippine government itself. During Spanish times, the Spanish constructed the first roads in the Philippines using significant forced labor. These public works projects were not only used in the connection of towns and fortresses, but also in improving communications. As Spain expanded the scale of its public works projects, it resorted to a policy of attraction through public works projects. In 1867, in order to pursue this objective, the King of Spain by decree designated the Spanish Governor-General as the Chief of Public Works assisted by Junta Consultiva through a Royal Degree in 1867.
It was in 1868 that the DPWH was born as the Bureau of Public Works and Highways, or Obras Publicas. Alongside the Bureau of Communications and Transportation (Communicaciones y Meteologia), now the Department of Transportation and Communications, the DPWH was organized under a civil engineer known as the “Director General”. It was responsible for all public works projects being done in the islands.
During the Philippine Revolution, public works duties were assumed by a new department known as the Department of War and Public Works (DWPW). Although initially included in the portfolio of the Department of War (now the Department of National Defense), public works projects were so important to the war effort that public works were also prioritized through this department.
During the American period, public works projects were initially put in the hands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, this was transferred to a department known as the "Provincial Supervisions" on February 6, 1901. This eventually became the Department of Commerce and Police (DCP) in 1902, with two public works-related agencies, the Bureau of Engineering and Construction for public works projects and the Bureau of Architecture and Construction for the construction of public buildings. Both agencies were eventually merged into a bureau known as the Bureau of Public Works and was eventually subsumed into the DCP during reorganization in 1905. To keep pace with further developments in transportation and communications, the DCP was transformed into the Department of Commerce and Communications (DCC) in 1921.
In 1931, the DCC was renamed by the Philippine Legislature the Department of Public Works and Communication (DPWC). Upon the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, the DPWC was reorganized to contain the following bureaus: the Bureau of Public Works, Ports, Aeronautics, Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Metropolitan Water District Division of Marine, Railway and Repair Shop, National Radio Broadcasting, the Irrigation Council and Board of Examiners for Civil, Mechanical, Chemical and Mining Engineers.
During World War II, the DPWC's offices were destroyed in the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. It resumed operations in 1946, albeit with limited funds and manpower. To assist reconstruction efforts, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads set up an office in the Philippines to coordinate with the Philippine Bureau of Public Works in implementing the Philippine highway network, which was in ruins.
The DPWC was renamed in 1951 the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications, or DPWTC. In 1954, a body named the Bureau of Public Highways was established. This became a separate department on July 1, 1974. Two years later, with the adoption of the 1976 amendments to the 1973 Constitution, the department became the Ministries of Public Works, Transportation and Communications, and Public Highways, respectively. In 1979, the MPWTC was split into two ministries, the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), now renamed as the Department of Transportation and Communications. After two years, the public works and highways ministries were merged, becoming the Ministry of Public Works and Highways in 1981.
On January 30, 1987, with the approval of the 1987 Constitution, the Ministry was reconfigured into a Department.
Declared state policy on public works and highways
The State shall maintain an engineering and construction arm and continuously develop its technology, for the purposes of ensuring the safety of all infrastructure facilities and securing for all public works and highways the highest efficiency and the most appropriate quality in construction. The planning, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure facilities, especially national highways, flood control and water resources development systems, and other public works in accordance with national development objectives, shall be the responsibility of such an engineering and construction arm. However, the exercise of this responsibility shall be decentralized to the fullest extent feasible.
Mandate of the DPWH
The Department of Public Works and Highways shall be the State's engineering and construction arm and is tasked to carry out the policy enunciated above (Section 2, Ibid.).
Powers and functions of the DPWH
The Department, in order to carry out its mandate, shall: (1) Provide technical services for the planning, design, construction, maintenance, or operation of infrastructure facilities; (2) Develop and implement effective codes, standards, and reasonable guidelines to ensure the safety of all public and private structures in the country and assure efficiency and proper quality in the construction of public works; (3) Ascertain that all public works plans and project implementation designs are consistent with current standards and guidelines; (4) Identify, plan, secure funding for, program, design, construct or undertake prequalification, bidding, and award of contracts of public works projects with the exception only of specialized projects undertaken by Government corporate entities with established technical capability and as directed by the President of the Philippines or as provided by law; (5) Provide the works supervision function for all public works constructions and ensure that actual construction is done in accordance with approved government plans and specifications; (6) Assist other agencies, including the local governments, in determining the most suitable entity to undertake the actual construction of public works projects; (7) Maintain or cause to be maintained all highways, flood control, and other public works throughout the country except those that are the responsibility of other agencies as directed by the President of the Philippines or as provided by law; (8) Provide an integrated planning for highways, flood control and water resource development systems, and other public works; (9) Classify road and highways into national, regional, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay roads and highways, based on objective criteria it shall adopt; provide or authorize the conversion of roads and highways from one category to another; and (10) Delegate, to any agency it determines to have the adequate technical capability, any of the foregoing powers and functions; and (11) Perform such other functions as may be provided by law (Section 3, Ibid.).
The Department is headed by the Secretary of Public Works and Highways (Philippines), with the following seven undersecretaries and five assistant secretaries
- Undersecretary for Planning & PPP
- Undersecretary for Technical Services
- Undersecretary for Support Services
- Undersecretary for Legal Affairs & Priority Projects
- Undersecretary for Regional Operations in Luzon
- Undersecretary for Regional Operations in Vis-Min
- Undersecretary for UPMO Operations
- Assistant Secretary for Technical Services
- Assistant Secretary for Support Services
- Assistant Secretary for Regional Operations in Luzon
- Assistant Secretary for Regional Operations in Visayas
- Assistant Secretary for Regional Operations in Mindanao
- Bureau of Design
- Bureau of Construction
- Bureau of Maintenance
- Bureau of Equipment
- Bureau of Research & Standards
- Bureau of Quality & Safety
- Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
- Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA)
List of the secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways
- "GAA 2015" (PDF). DBM. Retrieved January 22, 2015. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Sections 1, 2, & 3, Chapter 1, Title V, Book IV of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987
- Section 1, Chapter 1, Title V, Book IV of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987
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