COA decries temporary housing for PN officers, says it is extravagant

Published October 16, 2020, 7:06 PM

by Ben Rosario

At monthly rental rates ranging from P40,000 to P86,956, townhouses and condominium units given by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority as temporary housing facilities for top Philippine Navy top officers were assailed  as “excessive and extravagant” by state auditors.

The Commission on Audit, in its 2019 audit observations of the BCDA, also chided the agency for granting P101.311 million in financial assistance to Project-Affected Persons” in compensation of forest and fruit bearing trees planted by them when it developed the New Clark City. 

COA decried the grant of compensation as “without legal basis.”

“In this case, the PAPs informal settlers are not the legal owners of the land.  The subject land are government property, hence, the PAPs need not be compensated for the value of the land or the value of the crops and trees in the farmlands occupied by them” the audit agency stressed.

In the same audit report prepared by a COA team led by Director Elsielyn Masangcay,  the financial audit revealed that the BCDA has not been able to collect from Megaworld the minimum annual secured revenues share (MASRS) of P1.747 billion or P873.414 annually in 2018 and 2019.

This deprived BCDA of “valuable cash inflows,” the audit agency said.

“Moreover, interest due on delayed/non-payment of MASRS was not taken up in the books resulting in understatement of Receivables and Interest Income Accounts in the amount of P2316.655 million,” COA added.

These audit findings were included in the 2019 annual audit report for BCDA.  The report also disclosed that the P9.53 billion development of the sports facilities for the 2019 South East Asian Games and the National Government Administrative Center in New Clark City is “prejudicial to the interest of the government.”

In its audit of the temporary housing facilities for PN officers, COA said the condominium units and townhouses BCDA rented to house the military officials are “considered excessive/extravagant” as contemplated under COA Circular No. 2012-003.

Giving the PN officers temporary housing facilities is part of BCDA’s responsibility in the Memorandum of Agreement it entered with the DND/AFP which is in compliance to Executive Order NO. 62.

“Audit disclosed that townhouses were provided to Flag Officers/Generals at a monthly rental of P86,956 while monthly rentals of the condominium units for Senior Officers are ranging from P40,000 to P65,000 a month,” said COA.

“It is worth mentioning that spacious, fully/semi furnished townhouses and condominium units with two parking slots each do not correspond to a simple or modest living required from a public official and employee, especially that these temporary housing facilities are provided at the expense of the government, BCDA in particular,” the audit agency lamented.

The BCDA had the responsibility of providing the 20 Navy officers with temporary housing facilities because their housing units were affected by the construction of the Senate building in the BCDA.

According to auditors, the disbursements for the PN temporary housing were “incurred without restraint and exceed the bounds of propriety.”

“Such expenses are considered as non-responsive to the government’s call for judicious and prudent use of government funds and resources,” COA stressed.

In reaction, the BCDA management cited GHQ Circular No. -06 known as the AFP Housing Regulations that “stipulates the standard floor area per rank which is 160 to 180 sq. m with four bedrooms and three bathrooms.”

The state-owned firm also stressed that the housing facilities should not be considered extravagant because they are “at most comparable to what the PN has been providing the PN officers affected.”