March 28, 2023

Amidst allegation from the mayor of Baguio City that some projects funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways-Baguio City District Engineering Office and implemented by the winning contractor are substandard, the latter is banking on a report by the Commission on Audit that these questioned projects have been cleared.
The report, issued Jan. 18 by the COA-Cordillera National Government Sector Cluster 7, Public Works, Transport and Energy, stated one of the assailed projects, the P10.4 million worth off-carriageway improvement along Andres Bonifacio Road has been completed and the contract cost was found to be “reasonable”.
The COA added the deficiencies such as the non-completion of the of the removal of electric posts, unfinished surface along portions of the sidewalk, non-installation of additional grills in manhole rainwater inlets, non-provision of concrete paving blocks at driveways with slight gradient, and rail edges that were not properly ground have been corrected and completed by the contractor.
State auditors said completion of the project was delayed by 70 calendar days but the liquidated damage amounting to P36,374.10 has been withheld from the final payment to the contractor.
The COA report said no serious defects have been found in the project at the time of inspection but the contractor should solely shoulder the cost of restoration of the structural defects that will arise during the one-year warranty period pursuant to the Government Procurement Reform Act.
In its answer to the complaint, the BCDEO attached the COA report as evidence to disprove allegations made by Mayor Benjamin Magalong when he filed in July last year, a complaint before the Ombudsman alleging that officials of the BCDEO and the winning contractor have violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for implementing a project that is below par.
Magalong filed three other complaints after, involving a school building project in Irisan, the Parapad Bridge at North Sanitary Camp, and the by-pass and diversion road at Magsaysay Avenue.
For the first complaint, the OMB has ordered Magalong and the BCDEO to submit their position papers on or before Feb. 25.
For the succeeding complaints, the BCDEO has yet to receive copies of the complaints.
The DPWH, however, issued a press statement for the fourth complaint stating that like the previously implemented projects, the by-pass project at Magsaysay, has been cleared by the COA and the Quality Assurance Unit of the DPWH central office.
Magalong is the first local chief executive to sue the DPWH for the agency’s supposed complicity when contractors implement deficient projects.
In a report released by the Public Information Office in July 2022, Magalong said he hopes the complaint will serve as a test case to spur improvement in the implementation of government infrastructure projects. – Rimaliza A. Opiña