June 14, 2024

The series of findings by the Commission on Audit about the low accomplishment in the implementation of plans, programs, and activities (PPAs) in Baguio City now should concern the public.
As clearly pointed out by the COA, the public has been deprived of the use of these PPAs due to lack of planning.
As admitted by the city’s planning officer in a forum with the city council, lack of proper planning was the biggest factor why the city government was issued the audit observation memorandum. These findings also affect the city’s bid of conferred the Seal of Good Local Governance Award by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
The COA memorandum further pointed out the city government has been needlessly earning interest from funds already programmed for PPAs.
Acknowledging these lapses by the concerned departments and addressing them is a move in the right direction but it is also worth pointing out that these could have been avoided if coordination between departments and national government agencies have been strengthened. The adverse findings clearly show there is a disconnect among concerned offices.
Planning is supposed to be done prior to the identification of projects for the incoming year. Yet during the implementation phase, some funds end up being reverted to the city or national treasury as the same project has already been funded by another agency.
The Department of Public Works and Highways, which funds some projects in the city, also revealed that it was only recently that it has coordinated with concerned city departments.
Previously, the agency’s practice was to coordinate only with the end user, usually the barangay officials, but it turns out this is not enough as some projects are not aligned with the zonal classification or land use plan at the project area.
This and other issues could have been avoided if there was proper coordination at the onset.
Some city officials argue that reversion of funds indicate that at least, public funds were not corrupted. This contention is a self-serving excuse.
The point is, funds that have been returned could have been used for other projects. The fund may be intact but it still was a waste because it was not put to good use and the public has not fully realized the benefits of paying taxes.
The role of the City Development Council should also be reexamined.
As a body consulted for charting the city’s development agenda, it seems to us that it has to be retooled with how to properly identify a “priority” project. The CDC’s perspective may come from a personal point of view but it might not be what the community needs.
The steps taken by the City Planning and Development Office to address the COA memos such as the need to plan one year ahead, and for city departments to have a time and motion study so that they will be able to determine how much workload can be accommodated will hopefully bring about fruitful results in the incoming years.
Good governance, after all, also entails the prudent, responsible, and efficient use of public funds.