Budget Watch

SC fails to use P5 billion for court buildings

SC fails to use P5 billion for court buildings
The Commission on Audit says that, of the 61 halls of justice programmed for construction, 48 have not yet been built or repaired, while eight are yet to be completed, as of 2020

Between 2016 and 2020, the Supreme Court was provided a total of P5.22 billion to build 61 halls of justice (HOJs), but state auditors found that only five of the target number had been completed. 

In a report released on Monday, September 27, the Commission on Audit (COA) said that, of the 61 HOJs programmed for construction, 48 had not yet been built or repaired, while eight were yet to be completed, as of 2020. 

These accounted for P5.079  billion and P44.06 million, respectively, in unutilized allotments under the Justice System Infrastructure Program (JUSIP).

COA said that, aside from lower courts not having adequate facilities because of the delays or non-construction of HOJs, they would have to deal with “an increase in project costs due to price escalation by the time the projects will be implemented.” It would mean “additional funding and expenses on the part of the government.”

The auditors spotted the following causes of delays and non-utilization of funds:

  • Inadequate planning and slow processes for procurement
  • Local governments’ inability to provide sites for the HOJs for various reasons 
  • The insufficiency of the time provided under the Government Procurement Reform Act to complete the bidding, evaluation, and award of the contracts

The Office on Halls of Justice told COA it was reorgnizing to address the shortage of technical personnel. It also said it would “improve and fine-tune its services…geared towards the delivery of effective and efficient services.” – Rappler.com