DAVAO CITY – A minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) alleged Wednesday that the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had “anomalous disbursements.”
In a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin, BARMM Public Works Minister Eduard Uy Guerra said “there were projects within the jurisdiction of the defunct (ARMM) that were left unfinished even after these were already fully paid.”
Guerra said the funds for some infrastructure projects have already been depleted even before the ARMM was officially turned over to BARMM in February 2019.
In 2017 alone, Guerra said, the ARMM “appeared to have overpaid projects by at least 26 percent when BARMM tried to match disbursed funds to actual physical accomplishments of projects for which the payments were made.”
“(An) ongoing special audit covers 4,385 projects, of which 3,784, with a total cost of P 107.23 billion, were either left barely started, totally undone, or abandoned half-finished in 2018,” Guerra said.
Guerra added that there were “irreconcilable discrepancies” in the disbursements of infrastructure funds for the unfinished projects. These projects were either contracted to private firms, or were undertaken by the District Engineering Offices (DEO) of the Department of Public Works and Highways ARMM.
One of the projects that Guerra cited was a P388,999 children’s park in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur that was “paid up by 96 percent, when actual accomplishment on the project was just 45 percent.”
Guerra also alleged that water system projects in Lanao del Sur received payments even when no project has been implemented since 2018.
“There, too, was a water system project in Lumbatan town, where the contractor was paid P14.140,335.62, but has yet to build the system since 2018,” he added.
Guerra said he has already requested “a special CoA (Commission on Audit) audit on huge spending on infrastructure projects that purportedly included a 72.73 percent “overpayment” in 2018.”
Guerra said due to the alleged overpayments, “BARMM funds were already depleted to pay for unfinished projects in Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.”