P18-M Intramuros brand campaign has nothing to show – COA
MANILA, Philippines – If the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) was quick to pay P80 million to its "Buhay Carinderia" supplier, the Intramuros Administration (IA) has been sitting on an P18-million budget for two years now for its branding campaign.
The non-use of the budget has prompted the Commission on Audit (COA) to flag the Intramuros Administration twice, once in 2016, and again in its recently released 2017 audit report of the agency. The Intramuros Administration, like the TPB, is an agency attached to the Department of Tourism (DOT).
By the end of 2017, only P450,112 out of the P18 million had been spent by the agency, and it was used to buy 30 memo pads with the Intramuros logo, 6 boxes of file envelopes and bond papers with the same Intramuros logo. Part of the money was also used to mount an exhibit of El Museo del Prado En Filipinos.
The COA urged the IA to soon create a team that would focus on the implementation and completion of the project, which seeks to promote the historic walled city as a popular tourist and cultural destination.
The branding campaign
The branding campaign called “Promise and Possibilities in Intramuros" was given an P18-million budget in January 2016, which was sourced from the DOT. It was a project which they hoped would attract investors to the walled city.
“It is projected that an increase in tourism investments in Intramuros will generate substantial growth in tourism revenues and employment, directly benefiting the local communities, while incentivizing the revitalization of its surrounding environs and the entire City of Manila,” the COA said.
In the initial plan, the campaign was pegged to be completed by September 2016, with elements including walking tour brochures and maps, print advertisements, theater and online campaigns and other brand materials.
By the end of 2016, only 1.97% was spent on the memo pads and bond papers, one printer, and a Christmas display (later on, the printer and Christmas display would be excluded from the project expenses because they were not part of the campaign).
The COA noted these in its 2016 audit report of the Intramuros Administration. The report was released in 2017 when then secretary Wanda Teo was already at the helm of the DOT.
The COA said that the project was revised in 2017, and the new breakdowns and components had to be approved by Teo.
“It was noted that the creative process on the production of materials and preparation of documents required for the procurement process had just been started on the last quarter of  upon the receipt of the approved revised project components by the Secretary of DOT,” the COA said.
By October 2017, the project had a new blueprint but that “despite the availability of funds, none of the project components were completed/accomplished as at year-end,” the COA report said.
From 2016, despite COA's prodding then, up to 2017, nothing happened with the project despite available funds. By yearend 2017, the project only had memo pads and bond papers to show.
The COA also flagged the IA's storage of museum antiques, artifacts and collections since June 30, 2011. Since there have been 7,554 pieces of artifacts just kept in various storage rooms due to the absence of exhibit areas.
“The Audit Team was informed that various antiques and museum collections will be exhibited/displayed upon completion of the construction of Museo de Intramuros and San Ignacio Church in Intramuros, Manila,” according to the COA.
The COA pointed out that the artifacts kept in non-ideal conditions: “non-conducive storage, fluctuating temperature, humidity, dirt, insects and the like.”
"Full conservation and curatorial activities for the museum" were not done because of the "lack of curator and trained personnel, non-availability/non-procurement of conservation/curatorial materials, and lack of proper storage/exhibit areas,” added COA.
And finally, it pointed out that artifacts kept by the government and given to agencies like the Intramuros Administration are supposed to be displayed to boost the cultural appreciation of Filipinos and foreigners alike. This objective, the COA said, “was not fully realized because the visitors/public were precluded from seeing, experiencing and appreciating first-hand the value of said museum collections and antiques.”
The Intramuros Administration is headed by lawyer Guiller Asido who was previously chief operating officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).
She was replaced by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who was reportedly shocked by the spending in her new office. – Rappler.com