Department of Public Works and Highways

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Department of Public Works and Highways

Seal of the Department of Public Works and Highways

Established: January 30, 1987
Secretary: Rogelio Singson
Budget: P109.8 billion (2012)

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is one of the three executive departments of the Philippine government responsible for undertaking major infrastructure projects. The department is constituted to plan infrastructure and design, as well as to construct and maintain national roads, bridges, and major flood control systems.



DPWH is considered as one of the oldest departments in the Philippine government. Its foundation dates back to about 400 years during the Spanish colonization.

In 1868, the Bureau of Public Works and Highways (Obras Publicas) and Bureau of Communications and Transportation (Communicationes y Meteologia) were established and managed by a civil engineer known as “Director General.”

After the war for Philippine independence, General Emilio Aguinaldo issued the Organic Decree of the Philippine Revolutionary Government on 23 June 1898, creating four executive departments, one of which was the Department of War and Public Works. At the same time, the United States took control of the country and placed the public works and activities under the U.S. Army of engineers.

On 6 February 1901, public works and projects were placed under the “Provincial Supervisions” by virtue of Act No. 83 passed by the Philippine Commission. The following year, the Department of Commerce and Police was created, which gave birth to the Bureau of Engineering and Construction of public works and the Bureau of Architecture and Construction of public buildings. On 26 October 1905, the two bureaus became the Bureau of Public Works that aimed to provide the need for a more extensive road network that would penetrate the rural areas. Thus, provincial boards were created in 1907, and they were authorized to collect double cedula taxes to finance the construction of provincial roads and bridges.

The year 1910 became witness to the first appearance of motor vehicles in the Philippine highways. To be able to raise funds to keep roads and bridges in good condition at all times, motor vehicle owners and drivers were required to register with a corresponding fee in 1921. With all these developments, the Department of Commerce and Police evolved into the Department of Commerce and Communications under Reorganization Act No. 2666 of 1916.

The Department of Commerce and Communications became the Department of Public Works and Communications in 1931, when the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 4007, which lacked the proper composition and functions of the said department until its reorganization on 15 November 1935 during the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government. The DPWC 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.

During World War II, government offices, including the DPWC, were shut down due to lack of funds, materials and equipment, and manpower. The installation of enemy administration and the formation of the resistance movement were also factors. It resumed its operation in 1946, with limited human resources, funds, materials and equipment.

In 1947, the Motor Vehicles office was placed under the department's supervision and in 1954, as promulgated by Executive Order No. 392, the DPWC was transformed into the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (DPWTC). It included 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.

The Republic Act No. 917, or the Philippine Highway Act of 1953, provided for an efficient highway administration and modified apportionment of highway funds. It also gave aid to provinces and cities for the improvement and maintenance of roads and bridges.

By virtue of the Republic Act No. 1192, the Bureau of Public Highways was created in 1954 and was placed under the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications to manage the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

When President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 21 September 1972, the government implemented the Integrated Reorganization Plan No.1, which places all the infrastructure functions of bureaus and offices under the DPWTC.

Through Administrative Order No. 2, the Bureau of Public Highways was expanded and it became the Department of Public Highways in 1 July 1974. Five years later, MPWTC was divided into two ministries: the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC). All bureaus and offices concerned with public works functions and activities were placed under the management of MPW. Likewise, all offices involved in transportation and communications were placed under the supervision of MOTC. Then, the Ministries of Public Works and Public Highways were merged by virtue of Executive Order No. 710 on 27 July 1981. It became the Ministry of Public Works and Highways (MPWH), with 14 regional offices, 94 districts and 60 city engineering offices, five bureaus and six service offices, in addition to corporations and councils attached to the Ministry for administrative supervision.

The current Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was promulgated by virtue of Executive Order No. 124 on 30 January 1987, having five bureaus, six services, 16 regional offices, 24 project management offices, 16 regional equipment services and 118 district engineering offices.

Functions and Responsibilities

DPWH's main function is to continuously develop its technology for the purpose of ensuring the safety of all infrastructure facilities and securing for all public works and highways the highest efficiency and quality in construction.

It is responsible for the planning, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, especially the national highways, flood control and water resources development system, and other public works in accordance with national development objectives.


In line with the overall policy directive of President Benigno Aquino III's Tuwid na Daan in eradicating graft and corruption in government offices, current DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson addressed the organizational problems within the department and identified areas which were perceived to be prone to such unscrupulous activities.

For the eligibility screening of contractors, the department created a computer-based registry of civil works contractors developed under the Road Information Support System (RIMSS) . This will help minimize, if not totally eradicate, collusion among contractors. However, the adoption of this system by all regions has yet to be implemented .

Current Projects and Developments

On 6 August 2012, the Department of Public Works and Highways, together with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), launched the Development of a Quality Management System (QMS) project at the DPWH Central Office in Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila. This project aims to establish and implement a quality management system for DPWH that is certifiable to ISO 9001:2008. Among the offices covered by the project are the Bureau of Design, Construction, Maintenance, Research and Standards, Equipment, and Quality and Safety which are all under the Technical Services; the Support Services that includes Administrative and Manpower Management, Monitoring and Information, Legal, Planning, Internal Audit, and Comptrollership and Financial Management; NCR and Davao Regional Offices; and South Manila and Davao City District Offices.

Quezon Avenue and G. Araneta Avenue Intersection

On 28 September 2012, the construction of the grade separation of C-3 Road (G. Araneta Avenue) and Quezon Avenue was completed ahead of schedule. The 452-million-peso project began on 20 June 2011. It was designed to improve the traffic flow at the intersection of Quezon Avenue and G. Araneta Avenue and to reduce pollution load by lessening gas emissions during traffic gridlock.


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