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COA flags P13M road project as ‘excessive’

Miriam Garcia Desacada (The Freeman) - August 28, 2018 - 12:00am

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) had issued a notice of disallowance to the Ormoc City government against the latter’s road concreting project at the composting area in Barangay Green Valley of Ormoc City, saying the amount was ‘excessive.’

COA, in its notice of disallowance (no. 18-001-199-17 and dated June 26, 2018), called up the attention of OIC-City Accountant Rosario Serafica about the approved budget of the contract (ABC) amounting to P13,619,084.20 and the original contract cost of P13,614,045.47.

Both amounts were deemed “excessive” by COA, as these are higher than COA’s evaluated cost of P12,568,260.82, or with a difference of P1, 045,784.65.

The city government revised the contract amount to P13,817,284.31, and COA also found this higher than the agency’s evaluated cost of P12,772,078.08, and considered “not reasonable.” The difference of P1,045,206.23 was also seen by COA as “excessive.”

Though the discrepancies were attributed to the excessive price movement of subgrade preparation, aggregate base course (road way and shouldering and thickness, COA observed that “the unit derivation of this certain project is not in accordance with the Department of Public Works and Highways 2015 Road Construction Cost Estimation Manual.”

The notice of disallowance further stated that those determined “liable for the transactions,” are: Serafica himself, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, City Administrator Vincent Emnas, City Engineer Ranulfo Oliveros, City Treasurer Delia Vilbar, local collection revenue officer Maria Bebeth Cortes, local treasury operations officer Alicia Dimapingun, and project contractor RJIR Enterprises.

Vilbar, Cortes, and Dimapingun — all of the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) — have so far replied that their office only “signed the disbursement voucher,” which was approved by Emnas, and “issued checks for its payment (for the project) because there was cash or fund available.

The CTO “has no expertise when it comes to infrastructure projects, much more in the determination of the cost of the project, whether it has been overpriced or not.”

The three CTO officers said they believed that the transaction had undergone the regular process, because the mayor “certified the appropriation …; the budget officer (Sabrina Duero) certified on the obligation request; the accountant allowed it in audit with the OIC accountant; and the city administrator approved the voucher for payment.”

Vilbar signed the disbursement voucher, while Cortes and Dimapingun the checks — no. 1441381 on September 27, 2017, and 1441830 on December 8, 2017— respectively. But they declared that their role was only up to this point, and that it was up to the other city officials to determine the exact and proper amount needed for the project.

Mayor Gomez, Emnas, Serafica, and Oliveros have still to submit their explanations to COA on how they came up with the amount that the commission had found out to be “excessive” than its evaluated cost.

Earlier, COA also issued a notice of suspension for the fountain project of the city government. Documents showed that the fountain was already operational even before the bidding process started, and that the contract amount of more than P10 million also dwarfed the government’s posted proce of P2.8 million. (FREEMAN)

COMMISSION ON AUDIT
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