COA flags various Bulacan infrastructure projects

Published June 8, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By Ben R. Rosario

The Commission on Audit (COA) has raised red flags in the implementation by the Bulacan provincial government of its infrastructure and disaster mitigation programs.

COA also noted in the 2017 annual audit report for Bulacan that the provincial government hired consultants who have “no technical or professional expertise” and no definite expected output for the year.

The report showed that auditors found defects in the newly constructed Bubulong Malaki-Bulusukan-BubulongMunti Bohol na Mangga Farm-to-Market Road that cost the provincial government P97.5 million.

Cracks on the road indicated “early deterioration of the project” that also affects the “economic life span” of the project.

The farm-to-market road project was constructed by a contractor who also defaulted in the completion of the road.

“Likewise, ocular inspection of the project disclosed several defects such as longitudinal and transverse cracks and major/minor scaling in several portions of the road pavement thereby leading to the early deterioration of the project and unfavorably affecting its economc life span,” COA said.

The audit agency told Bulacan officials to strictly impose liquidated damage against the defaulting contractor.

The same audit report also noted lapses in the implementation of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund such as the charging of non-disaster related infrastructure project.

COA said the provincial government also collected expenditures for meals and representation expenses which are barred in the program.

State auditors said at least eight planned projects were also not implemented, resulting in the “non-achievement of disaster preparedness and response capabilities” as provided for under Republic Act No. 10121.

For the year, the provincial government spent P191.8 million of the total mitigation fund available for the purpose.

Some P30 million were spent for five capital investment projects consisting of upgrading, rehabilitation, and improvement of various roads. The charging of such expenses is improper, COA said.

“By their nature, road projects cannot be categorized in any of the four thematic areas of disaster risk reduction and management such as disaster prevention and mitigation, disaster preparedness, disaster response and disaster rehabiltation and recovery,” the audit report stated.

Also frowned upon by auditors are “unnecessary expenditures” covering meal and representation cost such as T-shirts and uniform.

Some P1.98 and P244,800 were spent for such “unnecessary and ineligible expenditures,” respectively.

COA chided provincial officials for hiring consultants who have no technical and professional expertise and with no definite expected output.

At least 81 private individuals were hired for consultancy services for pays ranging from P10,000 to P40,000 per month in 2017.

A review of the records of the consultants indicted that many of them lacked “qualifications and attributes” required of their jobs as theylacked educational requirement.

“Our evaluation of the submitted consultancy contracts showed that the job descriptions were mere duplication of the works of regular employees,” COA stated.