COA reveals irregularities in DPWH projects worth P17B

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Riddled with irregularities.

This was how the Commission on Audit (COA) described the infrastructure projects worth P16.9 billion implemented by 12 contractors selected by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) from 2009 to 2010.

COA Chairperson Grace Pulido Tan said auditors found "red flags" in various stages of the projects – from the procurement process to untraceable fund release orders, and the lack of monitoring and inspection during and after implementation.

Tan unveiled the results of the probe during a hearing Tuesday, June 10, conducted by the committee on good government and public accountability of the House of Representatives.

The committee is investigating the allegedly missing P30 billion worth of DPWH funds. 

Tan was expected to present a report on P10.2 billion worth of congressional insertions uncovered during the previous committee hearing.

She, however, said the audit reports on the amount were scattered across different agencies and auditors had yet to consolidate their findings. She instead asked for permission to present the special report. 

The audit report – which has been out for about 7 months now – was made upon the request of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson. 

It covered projects awarded to the following contractors from 2009 to 2010: 

Screenshot of COA presentation

In a summary prepared for the House committee, COA said it found that there were 290 projects costing P6.371 billion in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Bicol that did not undergo procurement planning as required under Section 7 of Republic Act 9184, the law governing government procurements.  

Deficiences 

The projects were implemented in different areas, including Isabela, Pampanga, Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, regions I to V, Eastern Visayas, Davao Region, and Metro Manila.

It also included 5 projects costing P67.3 million taken from the Malampaya fund. The projects were not energy-related. 

Some of the irregularities uncovered by COA from the procurement process down to the implementation of the project include: 

COA has issued notices of disallowance for P184.661 million to contractors of the substandard projects:

Of the amount, only P17.8 million have been returned to the government, Tan said. 

With the amount of anomalies COA uncovered, Tan told lawmakers her agency would subject the findings to a more intensive fraud audit.  

Read the summary of the COA report presented to the House panel below:

'Not intended to malign anyone'

Reacting to the audit report, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone said: "I hope this is not construed as an attempt to cover up the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) nor the P10.2-billion congressional insertions. Kasi po bigla 'nyo lang itong pinasabog (because you just suddenly exposed this)." 

Tan denied the accusation. 

"For the record, hindi naman po ako pumunta dito para gumawa ng pasabog (I did not come here to make an explosive revelation). I came here because you invited me to be here. As I said earlier, we don't have a special audit of the P10.2 billion (congressional insertions) but we have one on P16.9 billion (worth of projects)," Tan said. 

"It's not my intention here to malign anyone. In fact, before this, nanahimik po itong report na ito. Matagal na po sa amin ito, about 7 months na," she added. (This report has gone unnoticed. It has been with us for a while, for about 7 months now.)  Rappler.com