Department of Public Works and Highways (Philippines)
The Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

Department of Public Works and Highways , abbreviated as DPWH, is the executive department
Executive Departments of the Philippines
The Executive departments of the Philippines is the largest component of the national executive branch of the government of the Philippines. There are a total of nineteen executive departments. The departments comprise the largest part of the country's bureaucracy...

 of the Philippine government
Politics of the Philippines
The Politics of the Philippines takes place in an organized framework of a presidential, representative, and democratic republic whereby the president is both the head of state and the head of government within a pluriform multi-party system...

 responsible for all safety of projects in the field of public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

. It is also responsible for the maintenance of the Philippine road network and irrigation system.


The 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. Joan Lucero

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 BPWH 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
Philippine Revolution
The Philippine Revolution , called the "Tagalog War" by the Spanish, was an armed military conflict between the people of the Philippines and the Spanish colonial authorities which resulted in the secession of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish Empire.The Philippine Revolution began in August...

, 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
Department of National Defense (Philippines)
The Department of National Defense is the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for guarding against external and internal threats to peace and security in the country...

), 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
Commonwealth of the Philippines
The Commonwealth of the Philippines was a designation of the Philippines from 1935 to 1946 when the country was a commonwealth of the United States. The Commonwealth was created by the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1934. When Manuel L...

 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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 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
Constitution of the Philippines
The Constitution of the Philippines is the supreme law of the Philippines.The Constitution currently in effect was enacted in 1987, during the administration of President Corazon Aquino, and is popularly known as the "1987 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.

On January 30, 1987, with the approval of the 1987 Constitution, the MPW was merged with the former Ministry of Public Highways to become the present-day DPWH.


DPWH is highly perceived as one of the two most corrupt agencies in the country. Among the most prominent cases which many department executives got involved into was the repair scam. DPWH Undersecretary Salvador A. Pleyto was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman from service due to corruption. To rectify the problem of corruption in the department, it engaged itself in a series of Integrity Assessment. DPWH are among the first agencies to have implemented the electronic National Government Accounting System.
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