COA flags Pangasinan’s solid waste project over health concerns

Published June 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged Pangasinan’s Solid Waste Management program after discovering that “pathologic, hazardous, and infectious” wastes from various hospitals have not been “regularly disposed of” and may have posed a threat to the environment and public health.

Commission on Audit (MANILA BULLETIN)
Commission on Audit (MANILA BULLETIN)

To make matters worse, auditors said the provincial government spent P65,991,800 for three district hospitals’ sterilization machines that remained “idle” since these were delivered by the supplier. The machines work by treating hospital medical waste and kill microorganisms to drastically reduce contamination risks to people.

State auditors also noted “deficiencies” in the implementation of various infrastructure projects and procurement of goods amounting to P365,383,889.18. It also flagged 64 parcels of land worth P221.26 million that are supposed to be owned by the provincial government.

In the recently released 2019 Annual Audit Report (2019 AAR) covering the province’s disbursement for the year, COA reported that there had been inadequate internal control procedures in the tax collection on quarry resources.

The audit body’s review of the Solid Waste Management program of the province disclosed that it did not “maintain its own engineered Sanitary Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility for segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable” materials.

“Likewise, pathologic, hazardous, and infectious wastes generated by the devolved hospitals under the provincial government were not regularly disposed of; hence, could be a threat to the environment and health hazard to the public in general,” auditors warned.

In relation to this finding, the COA Value for Audit report noted that the provincial government has failed to use three units of waste management equipment purchased for P65,991,800.

“Three units of medical waste autoclave/microwave with built-in shredder and housing with a total acquisition cost of P65,991,800 remained idle from the time of delivery and acceptance due to the electrical/technical deficiencies, thus resulted in failure to attain their intended purposes,” the audit body reported.

The machines purchased from the Variance Trading Corporation were supposed to be used as “sterilization agent to kill microorganisms and treat hospital waste.”

Nevertheless, auditors said they appreciated the provincial government’s action in making the equipment operational.

A copy of the 2019 AAR that contained the adverse audit findings was forwarded to Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino III.

The report noted that audit of payments, contracts, and other supporting documents of various procurement of infrastructure projects and goods violated provisions of Presidential Decree 1445, the Government Procurement Ac t and audit rules.

The questionable transactions involved P365.38 million in public funds. However, it was indicated that most of the issues raised concerned completion of documentary requirements.

One of the projects questioned was the incomplete documents in the implementation of the Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program of the Department of Health amounting to P61.46 million.