Northrail spent ₱232 million for relocation without a single family relocated – COA

Published October 22, 2020, 7:10 PM

by Ben Rosario

Some ₱232.89 million in government funds spent for the relocation program for informal settlers displaced as a result of the Northrail Project went down the drain with no actual relocation undertaken despite the huge expenditure.

Worse, the five parcels of land tapped as relocation site have been assessed by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau as “vulnerable to natural hazards, hence, not considered appropriate as residential area,” the Commission on Audit (COA) has reported.

In the recently released Expanded Audit of the Northrail Project initially implemented by the North Luzon Railways Corporation (Northrail), COA also disclosed that out of the disbursements totaling ₱505.35 million for additional right-of-way acquisition, ₱423.46 million in expenditures were found to be irregular.

“Northrail spent around ₱232.89 million for the relocation program in a joint undertaking with the Provincial Government of Bulacan (PGB) and Alto Projekt Asia, Inc. (APAI) without actual relocation undertaken,” COA said.

Auditors disclosed that at least 10,000 families living in the PNR property and the right-of-way in Bulacan were to be relocated to give way to the Northrail project.

To jumpstart the relocation of af – fected families Northrail entered into a memorandum of agreement with the PGB which then received ₱10 million and 50 hectares of land in Norzagaray, Bulacan for the implementation of the project.

“While the PGB committed to complete the relocation on June 30, 2011, there was no actual relocation undertaken by PGB,” COA stated in an audit report released recently.

By that time, Northrail already spent ₱232.89 million for the “purported relocation program without relocating a single family.”

In the same special audit report, COA also flagged some ₱505.35-million expenditures for the right of way acquisition, noting that ₱423.46 million in disbursements were “found with deficiencies.”