COA holds Davao City engineering office liable in ‘haphazard’ road safety projects


The Commission on Audit (COA) has affirmed the P11.6 million liability of the Davao City District Engineering Office (DCDEO) and a contractor in the "irregular and haphazard" road safety projects done from 2009 to 2012.

In 2014, COA issued the P11.6 million notice of disallowance (ND) to DCDEO of the Department of Public Works and Highways. The ND was appealed by Engineer Lorna T. Ricardo of DCDEO.

Records showed that DPWH-DCDEO undertook 15 traffic safety projects with a total project cost of P289,500,000 from March 6, 2009 to March 12, 2012. The projects were all awarded to E. Gardiola Construction, a single proprietorship based in Quezon City.

However, COA said its Special Audit Team (SAT) found that the construction was "done in a manner that deviates or departs from, or which does not comply with the standards set by the DPWH."

It said the SAT found that the construction of the guardrails, road signs, and foundation blocks was "substandard and deficient." The reflective pavement studs were also "of inferior quality and overpriced," it said.

At the same time, COA said that the SAT found that the cost of materials and labor was "unreasonably high and beyond just measure of amount." The total amount disallowed was P11.6 million it said.

In the appeal, Ricardo told COA that there was no criteria or standard set in determining the disallowance. COA found the appeal bereft of merit.

COA ruled that the projects were indeed implemented in an "irregular and haphazard" manner, and the petitioners (Ricardo and DCDEO) failed to refute it. The COA affirmed that the contractor was liable for the transaction, as well as the other persons held liable under the ND.

"Accordingly, Notice of Disallowance No. 14-002-101(2010)-DPWH, DCDEO dated March 24, 2014, on the payment for the traffic safety project-Rehabilitation/Improvement along Ma-a Road Jct. Gem Village to Marfori Heights and Mabini Street with Exception, E. Quirino Avenue, Tiongko Avenue with Exception, Davao City, in the amount of P11,629,803.53 is hereby affirmed," the dispositive portion of the ruling stated.