History

BACKGROUND

The development of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) into its present structure underwent a long process of evolution spanning a century of colorful and significant events in laying the groundwork for the physical foundation of the country.

The Department is considered as old as the Philippine government, its existence dates back to about four (4) centuries at the time of the Spanish colonial era. It emerged from its embryonic form in 1565 when the first settlement roads were constructed by forced labor. Fortresses then were connected by improved trails as supply lines and means of communications. As Spain was in its expansion program in the islands, it resorted to a policy of attraction by way of public works construction. In order to pursue their objective, the King of Spain designated the Spanish Governor General in the country as Chief of Public Works assisted by “Junta Consultiva” through a Royal Degree in 1867.

It was in 1868 when the Bureau of Public Works and Highways (Obras Publicas) and Bureau of Communications and Transportation (Communicationes y Meteologia) were organized under a civil enginer known as “Director General”.

Since then, the Department underwent various stages of development and evolution that largely depended upon the change in government shift of administration policies, and reorganization in its structure and responsibilities to suit the demands of times.

Finally after a long process of evolution by virtue of Executive Order No. 124, dated January 30, 1987, the agency is now known as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with five (5) bureaus, six (6) services, sixteen (16 regional offices, twenty-four (24) project management offices sixteen (16) regional equipment services and one-hundred eighteen (118) district engineering offices.

EVOLUTION OF DPWH

  EVOLUTION OF DPWH 
1898The Organic Decree issued by Gen. Emilio Aquinaldo establishing the Philippine Revolutionary Government created four (4) government departments among which was theDepartment of  War and Public Works

          In 1896, after four (4) centuries of Spanish colonization, our Filipino forebears started the revolutionary movement and the struggle to gain freedom began.  On June 12, 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite.  The Organic Decree of the Philippine Revolutionary Government on June 23, 1898 issued by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo provided for the creation of four (4) Departments in the government, one of which was the DEPARTMENT OF WAR AND PUBLIC WORKS.

          Though once included in the Department of War, now Department of National Defense, its functions as builder and maintainer of roads, bridges and other public works structures are inherent in the present Department.  The inclusion of public works in the War and Department can be explained by the exigencies of the revolutionary period.  The construction of fortifications and trenches was needed in the cause for freedom which our heroes had fought for.

1902Bureau of Engineering and Construction of Public Works and Bureau of Architecture and Construction of Public Buildings - were created by Act. Nos 22 and 268 of the Philippine Commission and placed under the

The Department of Commerce and Police

          When Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in 1898, the public works and activities were placed under the U.S. Army engineers.  By virtue of Act No. 83 passed by the Philippine Commission on February 6, 1901, public works and projects were placed under the “Provincial Supervisions”.  In 1902, the Philippine Commission passed Act Nos. 222 and 268 creating the Department of Commerce and Police which gave birth to the Bureau of Engineering and Construction of public works and the Bureau of Architecture and Construction of public buildings.

           Act No. 1401 of the Philippine Commission passed on October 4, 1905, abolished engineering districts and positions of district engineers.  On October 26 of the same year, however, by virtue of a Reorganization Act, the Bureau of Public Works was created and placed under the Department of Commerce and Police. Along with the economic growth of the country was the need for a more extensive road network that would penetrate the rural areas.  In order to achieve that end, provincial boards were created in 1907 with authority to collect double cedula taxes to finance the construction of provincial roads and bridges.  In addition, the national government appropriated P1,700,000 as aid to such constructions.

October 26, 1905Bureau of Public Works was created and placed under Department of Commerce and Police 
1916Department of Commerce and Police transformed to

The Department of Commerce and Communications

           A significant headway in the growth of the DPWH was the first appearance of motor vehicles in the Philippine highways in 1910.  Roads and bridges had to be kept in good condition at all times.  Naturally, there was a need for funds to keep the roads passable the whole year round.  To raise such needed funds, motor vehicles and drivers plying the highways were required to register with fee in 1921.  To keep pace with further development in transportation and communications, the Department of Commerce and Police was transformed into the Department of Commerce and Communications under Reorganization Act No. 2666 of 1916. 

May 1, 1931Department of Commerce and Communications renamed as

The Department of Public Works and Communications  

           More development for the Department took place in 1931 when the Philippine Legislature passed on May 1 of that year Act No. 4007, renaming the Department of Commerce and Communications as Department of Public Works and Communications.  This Act, however, did not state the proper composition and functions of the DPWC.

           During the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government on November 15, 1935, a reorganization of the DPWC was undertaken.  Under the set up, it was composed of the Bureau of Public Works, Ports, Aeronautics, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Metropolitan Water District Division of Marine, Railway and Repair Shop, National Radio Broadcasting, Irrigation Council and Board of Examiners for Civil, Mechanical, Chemical and Mining Engineers.

          In 1941, outbreak of World War II, the DPWC and other government offices were practically abolished due to dislocation of manpower, lack of funds, materials and equipment, installation of enemy administration and the setting up of resistance movement.

            Resuming its operation in 1946, the DPWC started with limited human resources, funds, materials and equipment.  An office of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads was set up to cooperate with the Philippine Bureau of Public Works in implementing the highway program as authorized by the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946.

1951Department of Public Works and Communications (DPWC) was reconstituted as

The Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications

            The authority of the Department was further expanded when, in 1947, the Motor Vehicles Office was placed under its direct supervision.

            Under Executive Order No. 392 in 1951, the DPWC was again reconstituted to Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (DPWTC) to include the Bureaus of Public Works, Posts, Telecommunications, Motor Vehicles Office, Irrigation Council, Flood Control Commission, Radio Control Board, National Transportation Board and Government Quarters Committee.

            Taking cognizance of the social impact of the road network to national growth, the Philippine Highway Act of 1953 or Republic Act No. 917 providing for an effective highway administration, modified apportionment of highway funds and gave aid to provinces and cities for the improvement and maintenance of roads and bridges.

            In relation to road and bridge construction and maintenance, the Bureau of Public Highways was created in 1954 by virtue of the Republic Act No. 1192 and placed under the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications.  This Act provided for a more effective management of the Philippine Highways under a Commissioner.  Active plans & programs were formulated & implemented.

            Upon the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, the Administration implemented the Integrated Reorganization Plan No. 1 on September 24, placing all the infrastructure functions of Bureaus and Offices under the DPWTC for simplicity and economy of operations.

1954Bureau of Public Highways (BPH) was created and placed under DPWTC 
1974BPH was expanded as

The Department of Public Highways

            The former Bureau of Public Highways was expanded and restructured into the Department of Public Highways (DPH) for a more effective administration of the country’s highway system through Administrative Order No. 2, dated July 1, 1974.

1976

DPWTC renamed as

 

DPH renamed as

The Ministries

            With the shift in the form of government, national agencies were renamed from Departments to Ministries.  In 1976, DPWTC became Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (MPWTC) & DPH as Ministry of Public Highways (MPH).

July 23, 1979MPWTC was restructed into two (2) separate Ministries - one, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication and two, the

The Ministry of Public Works

            On July 23, 1979 under Executive Order No. 546, MPWTC was again restructured into two (2) Ministries – the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), integrating all bureaus and offices concerned with public works functions and activities under the Ministry of Public Works.  The same went true with all offices involved in transportation and communications which were placed under the supervision and administration of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

July 27, 1981MPW and MPH were merged to become

The Ministry of Public Works and Highways

            Under Executive Order No. 710 dated July 27, 1981, the Ministries of Public Works and Public Highways were merged for a more effective and sustained implementation of infrastructure projects.  Under the restructured set-up, the agency was known as the Ministry of Public Works and Highways (MPWH) with 14 regional offices, 94 districts and 60 city engineering offices, five (5) bureaus and six (6) service offices, in addition to corporations and councils attached to the Ministry for administrative supervision.

Jan 30, 1987MPWH was renamed as

The Department of Public Works and Highways

 

            Finally, by virtue of Executive Order No. 124, dated January 30, 1987, the agency is now known as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with five (5) bureaus, six (6) services, 16 regional offices, 24 project management offices, 16 regional equipment services and 118 district engineering offices.

            As the primary engineering and construction arm of the government, the DPWH is responsible for the planning, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructures such as roads and bridges, flood control systems, water resource development projects and other public works in accordance with national objectives.