Department of Public Works and Highways

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH; Filipino: Kagawaran ng mga Pagawain at Lansangang Bayan) is the executive department 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.[1] Mark Villar, son of real-estate tycoon and former senator Manuel "Manny" Villar and incumbent senator Cynthia Villar, is the current secretary of the department.


Spanish Period

DPWH is one of the oldest departments in the Philippine government. In 1868, the Bureau of Public Works and Highways (Obras Publicas) and Bureau of Communications and Transportation (Communicationes y Meteorologia) were established and managed by a civil engineer with the role of “director general.

After the war for Philippine independence, General Emilio Aguinaldo issued the Organic Decree of the Philippine Revolutionary Government on June 23, 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.

Bureau of Public Works

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 on Philippine highways. To be able to raise funds to keep roads and bridges in good condition, 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 (DPWC) 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 a 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.

Post World War 2

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.

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 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 on September 21, 1972, the government implemented the Integrated Reorganization Plan No.1, which placed all the infrastructure functions of bureaus and offices under the DPWTC.

Present Times

Through Administrative Order No. 2, the Bureau of Public Highways was expanded and it became the Department of Public Highways on 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 sought to help minimize, if not totally eradicate, collusion among contractors.

List of secretaries of public works and highways

No. Name Term Began Term Ended President
Minister of Public Works and Communications
1 Baldomero Aguinaldo 1898 1899 Emilio Aguinaldo
Secretary of War and Public Works
2 Mariano Trias 1899 1901 Emilio Aguinaldo
Secretary of Public Works and Communications
3 Antonio de las Alas November 15, 1935 1936 Manuel L. Quezon
4 Mariano Jesús Cuenco 1936 1939
5 José Avelino 1939 1941
Secretary of National Defense, Public Works, Communications and Labor
6 Basilio J. Valdes December 24, 1941 August 1, 1944 Manuel L. Quezon
Secretary of Public Works and Communications
7 Jose Paez August 8, 1944 1945 Sergio Osmeña Sr.
8 Sotero Cabahug February 27, 1945 May 28, 1946
9 Ricardo Nepumoceno May 28, 1946 July 1, 1949 Manuel Roxas
Elpidio Quirino
10 Prospero Sanidad February 21, 1950 1951
11 Sotero Baluyut January 6, 1951 1952
12 Pablo Lorenzo May 6, 1952 1953
Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Communications
13 Vicente Ylagan Orosa Sr. March 10, 1954 1955 Ramon Magsaysay
14 Florencio Moreno April 30, 1957 December 30, 1961
Carlos P. Garcia
15 Marciano Bautista 1961 1962 Diosdado Macapagal
16 Paulino Cases 1962 1962
17 Brigido Valenica 1962 1963
18 Jorge Abad 1963 1965
19 Antonio V. Raquiza August 24, 1966 1968 Ferdinand Marcos
20 Rene Espina November 1968 September 1969
21 Manuel Syquio September 1969 1970
22 David Consunji 1970 1975
23 Alfredo Juinio 1975 1978
Secretary of Public Highways
24 Baltazar Aquino 1974 1978 Ferdinand Marcos
Minister of Public Works, Transportation and Communications
25 Alfredo Juinio 1978 1981 Ferdinand Marcos
Minister of Public Highways
Baltazar Aquino 1978 1979 Ferdinand Marcos
26 Vicente Paterno 1979 1980
27 Jesus Hipolito 1980 1981
Minister of Public Works and Highways
Jesus Hipolito 1981 1986 Ferdinand Marcos
Secretary of Public Works and Highways
28 Rogaciano Mercado February 25, 1986 November 1986 Corazon C. Aquino
29 Vicente Jayme November 1986 1987
30 Juanito Ferrer 1987 1988
31 Fiorello Estuar 1988 1990
32 Jose de Jesus 1990 March 1, 1993
Fidel V. Ramos
33 Edmundo Mir March 1, 1993 June 1, 1993
34 Gregorio Vigilar June 1, 1993 January 20, 2001
Joseph Estrada
35 Simeon Datumanong January 20, 2001 January 15, 2003 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
36 Bayani Fernando January 15, 2003 April 15, 2003
37 Florante Soriquez April 15, 2003 February 15, 2005
38 Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. February 15, 2005 February 1, 2007
39 Manuel Bonoan February 1, 2007 July 4, 2007
(38) Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. July 4, 2007 October 22, 2009
40 Victor Domingo October 22, 2009 June 30, 2010
41 Rogelio Singson June 30, 2010 June 30, 2016 Benigno Simeon Aquino III
* Rafael Yabut June 30, 2016 July 31, 2016 Rodrigo Duterte
42 Mark Villar August 1, 2016 Incumbent


  1. About DPWH. Retrieved July 16, 2021



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