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COA flags DPWH for unfinished pumping stations in Metro Manila

The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the Department and Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for several unfinished projects, including the modernization of several pumping stations to mitigate flooding in Metro Manila.

According to Joseph Morong's "24 Oras" report, the Labasan pumping station in Taguig City is one of the 36 pumping stations that will be modernized under the extensive Metro Manila Flood Management Project, which was loaned from the World Bank.

The project also includes the construction of 20 new pumping stations.

This upgrade of the Labasan station was one the 14 foreign assisted projects worth P63 billion.  

The P375-million peso Labasan pumping station project was initially set to be completed by December 2022.

In its 2022 audit, COA said the said project and two others have recorded a 40 percent slippage or delay, which has bloated their cost.

COA said the DPWH did not mention if the projects have been terminated or have been taken over.

GMA Integrated News is still reaching out to the DPWH for its side.

In its annual audit report on DPWH, COA said a total of 1,798 projects were not finished or completed within the specific contract time or completion date, while 413 others, amounting to P27.47 billion, were suspended.

The COA also said 90 DPWH projects amounting to P5.1 billion were terminated or were for termination while 94 projects worth P3.55 billion had not been started at all during the year.

Based on its annual audit report on DPWH, COA said 1,798 projects still needed to be finished or completed within the specific contract time or completion date, while 413 others, amounting to P27.47 billion, were suspended.

Meanwhile, former COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan said adhering to the project schedule is a must.

“Delay in the performance pangit ‘yun, ikaw ‘yung borrower tapos hindi mo naman nade-deliver ‘yung project as contracted. Kung hanggang saan ‘yung binigay ng World Bank kukulangin ‘yun, magdadagdag ka,” she said.

Desk calendars

In a separate report, COA also called the attention of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the purchase of P974,000 worth of yearend corporate giveaways, including a P650 per piece desk calendars, which were not in accordance with the Procurement law.

State auditors said that TIEZA’s initial supplier which pegged the price at P230 per unit of desk calendar was disqualified due to failure to submit the details and specifications of the items, resulting in the contract awarding to the supplier with the higher quotation of P645 per piece.

“Annex H of the RIRR (Revised Implementing Rules of Regulations) of RA No. 9184 (Procurement law) provides that a pre-bid conference may be conducted at the discretion of the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), in order to clarify and/or explain any of the requirements, terms, conditions, and specifications stipulated in the RFQ (Request for Quotation) or Request for Price (RFP). Had the [Tieza] management clarified the specification/requirement with the other respondent — supplier, and proceeded with negotiation for a lower cost than the price quoted by the winning bidder, [Tieza] management could have procured at a price advantageous to the government,” COA said.

“Likewise, the [Tieza] management could have considered the procurement of the desk calendar and journal separately, to obtain the lowest rate per item which could have saved government funds,” the it added.

State auditors then recommended that Tieza conduct a pre-bid conference in compliance Annex H of the RIRR of RA No. 9184 and exercise prudence in obtaining the most advantageous price for the government.

In response to COA’s findings, TIEZA argued that for contracts with an Approved  Budget for the Contract (ABC) of less than P1 million, pre-bid conferences are only conducted at the discretion of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) or upon the written request of any prospective bidder, subject to the approval of the BAC.

Doing so otherwise, TIEZA said, would be too tedious.

“To conduct a pre-bid conference on all procurement, regardless of amount and nature thereof, will cause a great toll on the members of the BAC and the BAC-TWG (Technical Working Group), who are functioning as such in a concurrent capacity and have their own primary functions under their appointed permanent positions,” it said.

“In this case, the bidder with the lower bid was not compliant with the usual and regular requirements and specifications set by TIEZA. Surely, TIEZA would not award a contract to a bidder just because it was the lowest bidder, even if such a bid was not compliant,” TIEZA added.

Further, TIEZA said that the conduct of a pre-bid conference cannot guarantee compliance by the bidders because there have been previous instances where bidders would still fail to comply with the requirements despite the conduct of a pre-bid conference.

“As long as the awarded contract price does not exceed the ABC, TIEZA cannot be said to be shorthanded,” it added.—Llanesca Panti/Sherylin Untalan/LDF, GMA Integrated News