Fri. Nov 27th, 2020

There seems to be no end to alleged corruption at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as the Commission on Audit (COA) said in a recent report that the agency lost around P1.331  billion from funds advanced to contractors of completed and uncompleted projects that were never recovered.

COA placed the exact amount at P1,330,740,655.06 for 551 infrastructure projects in 2019 that were already completed, rescinded or terminated, with the amount representing advance payments and penalties to contractors never recovered.

The COA audit showed there were 530 completed projects getting advanced payment totaling P1.15 billion, while there were another 21 projects rescinded or terminated projects with advance payments reaching P177.26 million.

“One of the reasons for the nonrecoupment of advance payments made to contractors was the late/nonsubmission of final billings with the corresponding required documents by the concerned contractors, despite written/verbal requests” from DPWH, COA said.

Among the department’s regional offices, it was DPWH Region 9

that had the highest amount of unrecovered advances amounting to P330.34 million covering 81 projects.

COA also said there were similar instances in 2018 but the DPWH did nothing.

The alleged irregularity of P1.331 billion uncovered in the DPWH by state auditors is on top of the 184 infrastructure project that exceeded their costs amounting to a total of P431.93 million, which was also discovered by state auditors.

 ”Contract cost of 184 projects implemented by different DPWH offices were found excessive by the COA technical audit specialists for a total of P431,933,006.20 due to contract costs that exceeded the COA allowable cost,” COA said in a 2019 report on the DPWH.

The COA said there were “various deficiencies such as excessive costing and overestimated quantities of some items” in various DPWH offices nationwide for their projects including construction or improvement of roads, bridges, flood-control projects, school buildings and multipurpose buildings.

COA said the total cost for the projects in review reached P6.574 billion but technical audit specialists placed the evaluated cost of the projects at P6.142 billion, for an or overprice of  P431.933 million.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at brazen corruption in the DPWH, short of saying it is already common knowledge in the public and agency itself.

Over television, Duterte said contractors and project engineers are the worse perpetrators of corruption in the DPWH, adding that part of infrastructure project costs usually go to kickbacks.  (sovereignph.com)

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