April 17, 2024

A contractor for several potable water system projects (PWS) in Bontoc, Mountain Province is asking the municipal government to be paid of its remaining contract price and be cleared of an audit disallowance after it already settled its obligations.
In a letter to the Courier, Scientific Builders and Construction Supplies based in Barangay Bontoc Ili, Bontoc claimed the company was awarded by the municipal government on July 10, 2015 the clustered projects entitled “Construction of Mang-id Bontoc PWS in Barangay Caluttit amounting to P1,996,937.61” and “Construction/Expansion/Rehabilitation of Water System (Balabag) with a project price of P1,398,388.39”.
On Sept.7, 2017, the construction firm was issued a notice of disallowance from the Commission on Audit amounting to P1,315,125.37 but which was reduced in another notice on March 25, 2019 to P1,111,075.39.
Rommel Lengwa, the firm’s general manager, said his company has settled the disallowance, despite it originating from another project entitled “Completion of Potable Water System” with a contract amount of P1,999,595.33. He claimed this was settled by virtue of a notice of settlement of suspension/disallowance/charge dated Dec. 20, 2021.
On March 27, 2019, the firm again received a disallowance notice reducing its disallowance for the clustered project from the original 331,802.87 to P2,234.10.
“The fact that we already settled this huge disallowance except the one amounting to P2,234.10, the local government of Bontoc should now release the balance from the disallowed project which is 888,519.94, including unpaid balances from other projects,” Lengwa stated in his letter.
Lengwa also claimed his firm shouldered additional expenses that were not reflected in the program of work upon assurance the program of work will be amended and upon instruction from the Office of the (Acting) Mayor to fast-track the implementation of the project as this will delay the release of funds from the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
He said his firm was also given assurance it will be the one to continue the project once the separate budget from the Department of Public Works and Highways is released.
However, the continuation of the project was awarded to another contractor.
Lengwa claimed the then mayor informed him he signed a notice of termination of contract in Feb. 6, 2021 based on the Office of the Municipal Engineer’s recommendation to terminate and blacklist the license of his company because the project remained 82.21 percent complete and has incurred negative slippage.
He said he informed then Mayor Franklin Odsey in a letter that the project was 100 percent completed as of June 27, 2016 based on the feedbacks of an inspection team but just the same he requested for a joint inspection of the project which was conducted in July 2016.
In the joint inspection, Lengwa claimed as far as its firm is concerned, it is two days behind the completion date set by the office of the then acting mayor.
He again received a letter from the municipal government asking for a site inspection which he did not attend since it was to his understanding the project was terminated effective Feb. 6, 2017.
Based on COA’s audit and inspection of the project on March 14, 2017 and April 11, 2017, it was found to be 84.35 percent completed contrary to reported agency accomplishment of 82.21 percent due to discrepancies which was recommended for immediate repair and/or replacement and the unaccomplished work for the cluster amount was P475,047.78.
“As a result, the construction firm has been maligned, especially damaging the owner’s reputation, and deemed as vile and deceitful without due process,” Lengwa wrote.
He said he brought out the matter not to put other people in bad light but is intended to put things in order and the matter to rest.
Lengwa has also sent separate letters to Mayor Jerome Tudlong Jr. and the COA audit group LGS-F-Mountain Province Team 1 last month for immediate action on his settlement of disallowance and to be paid of the balances by the municipal government.
The Courier has reached out to the Office of the Mayor of Bontoc through its information office and was waiting for comment as of press time after being told the matter has been referred to the concerned municipal offices. – Hanna C. Lacsamana