Malampaya-funded NHA projects failed – COA

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the effectivity of the government's mass housing program for residents displaced by floods due to tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009.

In a special audit report released on Tuesday, January 12, COA looked into 2 National Housing Authority (NHA) projects – the Community Initiative Approach Program (CIAP) and Balik-Probinsya Program – and found that the objectives of these programs weren't satisfactorily met. 

“The intended purpose under the CIAP of providing permanent residence or relocation to qualified beneficiaries by constructing housing units or developing lots was not fully realized. (Housing) units accepted from contractors/developers were not totally compliant with the requirements,” the COA said.

COA added that only 169 out of the 300 families chosen to receive financial assistance under the Balik-Probinsya Program complied with the documentation requirements and have actually benefitted, thus leaving almost half of the allocation unutilized.

The audit report is part of COA's investigation on the P38.83 billion Malampaya Fund scam, which is the source of funding of these NHA projects.

Former Vice President Noli de Castro initially identified the Calamity Fund as the source of funding, but auditors noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) charged the allocation to the Malampaya Funds – which consists of royalties collected from operations of the Malampaya gas and oil fields in the waters off Palawan province.

The Malapaya Fund scam was perpetrated by Department of Agrarian reform officials and Janet Lim-Napoles, who's also behind the misused pork barrel of lawmakers. (READ: How the Malampaya fund was plundered)

Problem with contractor

COA visited 1,037 houses in the 10 resettlement sites constructed by NHA under these programs, and found that about 4 in 10 of these houses were already sold, leased out, or abandoned by beneficiary families.

Some beneficiaries are said to have given up their units because of the lack of reliable supply of water and other ulitilies in the resettlement sites.

COA points to NHA for accepting the structures as complete despite the defects left by the contractors.

Under CIAP, community associations endorsed developers – as approved by NHA – that developed selected sites and built the housing units.

The contractors chosen were:

One of these 3, however, managed to bag a contract despite not being qualified for the project.

“The team confirmed with the PCAB (Philippine Contractors’ Accreditation Board) …that Gateway Sand Builders Inc., one of the developers, has no record with (them),” the auditors said.

COA said a full payment totaling P780.599 million was released to all 3 contractors as of May 2012.

Beneficiaries' violations

COA also noted that NHA tolerated the violations committed by the beneficiaries themselves, and failed to impose sanctions on them.

Under CIAP, beneficiaries will receive a housing unit with a floor area of at least 20 square meters on a 32 square-meter lot. Each housing unit was strictly intended for their use, and should not be transferred, sold, or converted within 10 years from the issuance of title.

But audit inspections in 2012 and 2013 reveal that most of the units were already sold or rented out. Others were found to be converted into a maternity clinic, a mini-grocery store, and places of worship by at least 4 different religious groups.

“It appears that the qualifications of beneficiaries were not properly screened as those apparently not in need were likewise awarded a unit," said in the audit. – Rappler.com