March 3, 2024

It was not corruption but the slippage of contractors of the various infrastructure projects funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways-Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) that caused the lapse of said projects resulting to the possible forfeiture of the funds by the national government.

City officials led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong made this clarification taking exception from the misconceptions and false impressions that the projects were not accomplished on time due to corruption.

“No government fund was lost to corruption. No money was pocketed. There was utmost transparency and accountability on the part of the city government and due diligence was exercised to make sure that the projects are implemented correctly based on quality standards,” the officials said.

In fact, they said it was at the city government’s instance that some of the projects were stopped because of the defects and infractions committed by the contractors as determined during inspections and monitoring activities.

For instance, the mayor ordered the termination of the contract and even the blacklisting of the contractor for the two multi-purpose buildings at Wright Park after lapses were found. This after the Special Project Implementing Unit composed of the City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Buildings and Architecture Office, and City Engineering Office, issued several orders including a show cause order, notice of slippage and an on-the-spot inspection and correction due to deficiencies and infractions identified but no improvement was done by the contractor.

“We did those things because we can’t stand projects that are substandard and we never did pay projects that are below standard because that is tantamount to us shortchanging the public. What is important for these projects now is that no money was lost. There may have been some technical errors on the part of the city but there was never corruption,” the mayor stressed.

The mayor further clarified that the notices received from the Commission on Audit were instructions to the implementing agency to submit additional documents within a period of 90 days pending audit. The matter of the Youth Convergence Center has since been settled, while documents for the Sipag and BIP projects at Wright Park have already been submitted to the COA Audit Team.

The CBAO said the project contractor also incurred deficiencies resulting in the issuance of several notices to comply.

As to the Irisan multipurpose building project, the city also exercised due diligence to make sure that the materials are compliant with the project specifications by conducting mandatory testing of the materials before the project was implemented where it was found that these materials conformed to the specifications.

“It is disheartening that some quarters are quick to draw baseless assumptions and conclusions without first determining the true circumstances,” the mayor said, referring to news reports and comments where reference was made on his ongoing advocacy on good governance.

He said there was also false information being peddled like the claim on the winning contractor being a relative of a top city official, which he said was completely erroneous.

As to the reported disinclination of the DPWH-BCDEO to download more funds to the city this year as a result of this incident, the mayor said it is the department that should examine its own system.

“Look who’s talking. Does the DPWH-BCDEO have the moral ascendancy to make such claims with its propensity to execute projects that are substandard and pay for them without regard as to whether these projects will last and will really serve the interest of the public? Alam na nga nilang substandard, binabayaran pa. Kaya ba nilang tumingin sa mata ng tao at humarap sa simbahan at sabihin na walang nakurakot?” the mayor asked.

 “We remain resolute in establishing the principles of transparency and adherence to proper procedures in the implementation of all projects in the city. Good governance remains as our guiding principle. In public service, where challenges are inevitable, our commitment to ethical practices is unyielding. We stand firm against baseless assumptions, using these moments as opportunities to enlighten the people. It is our duty to the public, a promise I gave to ensure that every endeavor serves the greater good and uphold the principles that form the foundation of our civic responsibilities,” he added. – Aileen P. Refuerzo