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First phase of new Senate building 77% complete — DPWH

The first phase of the new Senate building in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig is 77% complete, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Tuesday.

The building has four unfinished towers that sit on a 18,000 square meter lot.

Senate President Francis Escudero on Monday ordered the suspension of the building's construction until its cost is reviewed and studied.

Escudero said the construction of the building is worth P23 billion, almost three times the original budget of P9 billion.

In a 24 Oras exclusive report, Project director Engineer Soledad Florencio said they would halt the construction once they receive the order from Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Accounts.

“Pag naka receive na po kami ng letter coming from Senator Cayetano at sabihin po nya na mag stop ng work, mag stop na kami kasi sila po may control,” Florencio said.

(We will stop once we receive a letter from Senator Cayetano because they are the ones who have control.)

The building has a helipad, a garden deck that connects four towers. Tt also has three floors dedicated to the offices of the 24 senators.

The senators’ plenary hall, located in the middle of the garden deck, will have tempered glasses to serve as a skylight.

There will also be an auditorium on the ground floor and three underground parking levels that can fit about 1,200 cars.

The new building is designed to provide more working space for the Senate, which has been renting six floors at the current Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) building since 1997.

In 2017, former senator Panfilo Lacson said the Senate should have its own building similar to well-known parliament buildings found in other countries.

“Hindi ba medyo marangya din sa panlasa ninyo ang ganitong kalaking halaga para sa isang government building? Baka ang katumbas nito ay mamahalin na at luxurious na building na makikita natin sa Makati at BGC,” Escudero said.

(Is it not too lavish for your taste to have a very expensive government building? Maybe this will be equivalent to the expensive and luxurious buildings we see in Makati and Bonifacio Global City.)

Phase 1 of the building construction costs P8.6 billion, which covers the glass windows and a number of elevators. 

Phase 2, which costs P2.375 billion, is now 18% complete.

The construction covered by the second phase includes installation of tiles, ceiling works, the elevators, generator sets, fire protection and escalators.

Although it has not yet been finalized, the installation of lights, partition wall and cooling system and fittings of the sinks and restrooms will occur in Phase 3 and will reportedly cost P5.7 billion.

The total cost of Phase 1,2 and 3 construction is P16.675 billion.

“Lahat ay through process lahat po ng mga submission ng aming documents and approval is with the pre-approval coming from the Senate po,” Florencio said.

(The submission of our documents is through a process and its approval is with the pre-approval from the Senate.)

The cost of Phase 4, which covers security for the senators, is not yet available.

The contract for the construction of the new Senate building is valid for three years, which was supposed to end in 2022, but factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic hampered and delayed the project.

“Ang masasabi ko lang po ngayon ay yung completion ng Phase 1 and Phase 2 which will be on July 2025. Hanggang doon lang po kami kasi ‘di pa po namin alam yung gagawin sa Phase 3,” Florencio said.

(What can I say is Phase 1 and 2 will be completed in 2025. That is what we can only say since we do not know what we will do in Phase 3.) —Mariel Celine Serquiña/RF, GMA Integrated News