July 23, 2024

Procedures in the disbursement of funds for one of the infrastructure projects at the Baguio Athletic Bowl funded by the national government through the Department of Public Works and Highways were violated, a report of the Commission on Audit stated.

The COA, in its 2022 audit report, pointed out lapses in the manner the city government spent a portion of the P50 million downloaded by the DPWH supposedly for the construction of a multipurpose building at the Athletic Bowl.

Among other things, the COA called out the city government for using half of the P50M from DPWH, or P25M, to pay the progress billing of a different project, which violates the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and the memorandum of agreement that spelled out where the P50M allocation should be used for.

The MOA signed by the city and DPWH provides the P50M allotted by the national government is for the “Construction of multipurpose building at the Athletic Bowl”, but the audit team found that the P25M initially released was instead used for the project, “Youth Convergence Center and Indoor Sports Complex at the Athletic Bowl.”

According to the report, the city’s Bids and Awards Committee for Infrastructure reportedly passed a resolution that “clustered” the DPWH project with that of the city government’s youth convergence center and indoor sports complex and confirmed that the two projects are “one and the same”. 

To recall, the construction of the youth convergence center is funded under the city’s Annual Investment Plan, with an allocation of more than P300M.

The COA said the disbursement voucher stated the P25M was for the payment of the partial billing of the multipurpose building project, but the contract attached to it already included the construction of the youth convergence center and indoor sports complex.

The audit agency added it appeared that the contract that contained the construction of the youth center “was just drawn to support the payment of the first partial billing of the DPWH project.”

Because of this lapse, among the other lapses, the COA said there was no procurement or implementation undertaken by the city government for the DPWH-funded construction of multipurpose building at Athletic Bowl.

“The initial fund transfer received from the DPWH for the construction of multipurpose building was actually used to pay the alleged progress billing of the city project: construction of a youth center and sports complex and Baguio City Youth Convergence Center and Indoor Sports Complex, in violation of the SARO,” the COA report stated.

To cure this defect, the COA recommended for the city government to sign an amended MOA where the DPWH should “explicitly approve” the clustering of the national government-funded project, “Construction of multipurpose building at the Athletic Bowl” with the city government-funded project, “Construction of Baguio Youth Convergence Center and Indoor Sports Complex at the Athletic Bowl.”

The project is being undertaken by the ME Sicat Construction. – Jane B. Cadalig