Deals COA must investigate!

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - March 5, 2015 - 12:00am

We have been seeing the contrasting stands between the Commission On Audit and the city administration of His Honor, Mayor Michael L. Rama, on a number of issues. Of late, the COA found occasion to lay its auditing sights on the expense incurred by the city in obtaining asphalt from private suppliers for road repair. It was specific in pointing out that the city could have instead used the batching plant that it purchased decades ago and in the process, save funds. Of course, the mayor had replied to the COA findings. This article, however, is not about their differing stances.

There is something that COA should really look into. This is the acquisition of second hand motor vehicles by government, mostly by local government units. The more visible transportation units are those commonly called as "multicabs", although frankly, I do not know why they are so called. There are also pieces of heavy equipment like dump trucks bought by LGU's using their limited resources.

It is my understanding that these "multicabs" and dump trucks are no longer allowed to run on the streets of the country where they originate. They have reached their maximum effective age. Operating them is adverse to the environment as it is uneconomical. That is the perceived rationale of the supposed law banning their continued use beyond 4 years. Or is it 5 years? Anyway, the point is that there is a specific lifetime for these vehicles.

Beyond their maximum operational years, these multicabs (and dump trucks) are considered junks. They have no more commercial value as any mode of transportation. As useless units, their selling price could not be higher than any other piece of useless equipment. Did I hear someone say that their commercial values are practically give-away prices?

But, enterprising minds have concurred the idea of making money out of these junks. Our astute businessmen buy them, not as individual running units, because they are not supposed to be running anymore, but on a per-lot basis like a heap of rusty metal sheets. In fact, when these multicabs are brought into our country, they are chopped into several pieces such that when you look at them, they are indistinguishable as these motor vehicles.

Upon reaching our shores, these junks are assembled. Their pieces are welded together, repainted to look (and I mean look only) beautiful, their engines tuned up and then they are sold to us.

Many leaders of local government units, for unknown reasons, throw their influence over everybody to buy these "multicabs". Their common rationale is that these units are cheap. Why do they refuse to acknowledge the fact that these vehicles are not allowed to run anymore in their country of origin? How come they do not concede that there must be valid reasons to declare their operation unlawful, after the lapse of a certain period? Our leaders, at every opportune time, speak about their commitments to enhancing our environment. Yet, by buying old motor vehicles in big quantities, they simply ignore the damage to our climate caused by these aged units!

Even then, how long does a multicab remain functional? Let COA personnel go to the cities, towns and barangays and they will find out that on the average, a multicab runs for 3 years. The sight of unserviceable multicabs will greet them because many of these units are rotting in the garages of LGU's and in areas near the public buildings. In contrast, they will notice that motor vehicles that were bought brand new run for far longer periods of time than multicabs and when they compute their corresponding worth in relation to period of serviceability, they will feel indignant because surely, their mathematical calculation will show the great prejudice to the public.

. A running multicab is expensive to maintain. Every now and then, it demands more repairs than brand new vehicles. Mechanics tell me that as soon as a spare part of a multicab gets replaced, another part breaks down. Naturally, repairs are quite expensive such that the better option is to allow it to rot.

So, I suggest that COA puts its keen investigators into these deals. When they find out that the government has been prejudiced by such acquisitions, let it initiate appropriate actions. In case they have this mind to do so, COA will indeed save huge amounts of public funds.



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