COA demands blacklisting contractors who caused delay of BFP’s modernization program

Published October 3, 2020, 8:11 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit has demanded the blacklisting of contractors who have caused the continued delay in the implementation of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s modernization program that guarantees the establishment of one operational fire station in every municipality and city in the country.

COA revealed in its 2019 BFP annual audit report that was released days ago that 170 fire stations remained unfinished in 2019, or have been abandoned by the contractor due to various reasons.

In the same audit report submitted to BFP Director Jose S. Embang Jr.,  COA Director Michael R. Bacani also revealed that the firefighting agency has transferred P4.309 billion to two procurement service agencies of the government for the purchase of supplies, materials and equipment and to finance various infrastructure projects.

Despite receiving the allocation from the BFP, the Procurement Service of the Department  of Budget and Management and the Philippine International Trading Corporation have failed to deliver the orders for several years now.

“Thus, depriving the agency of the immediate use of the items which are crucial in the discharge of the agency’s operation and unnecessarily making the fund idle in the custody of the PS-DBM and PITC,” COA lamented.

The state audit agency called for an investigation into the cause of delay in the implementation of construction projects with contracts already awarded to construction firms.

These projects are part of the BFP modernization program approved by government.

Auditors  called for the blacklisting of the contractors who have reneged on their contract obligation to deliver on time the fire station projects.

Recovery of liquidated damages and forfeiture of performance bonds of erring contractors were also proposed by COA.

According to the COA report, the implementation of the fire station construction projects has been entrusted to the PITC in 2017 although there was no prohibition for BFP to implement the program.

A total P787.50 million in Fire Code fees and P104.82 million, or a total P892.33 million was transferred to the PITC in 2017.

“Considering that the funds for the fire stations were transferred to PITC and no timeline was provided in the fund transfer, there was no assurance when the projects will be completed,” COA said.

The audit agency added: “The delay in the completion of the construction of fire stations does not only breach the terms and conditions of the contract entered into between the BFP and the contractors but also cause undue prejudice to public interest and well-being sought to be served by the timely completion of the projects.”

Aside from the PITC, COA said the PS-DBM was also remiss in its obligation to return to the BFP excess funds that the firefighting agency transferred from 2011 to 2018 for the procurement of fire trucks and other equipment.

State auditors said the BFP must demand from the PS-DBM and PITC the return of the unused funds and balances and the delivery of requested equipment and supplies.