COA flags P1.5-B irregularities in Yolanda housing project

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) found several irregularities in 18 housing projects worth some P1.508 billion under the Yolanda Permanent Housing Program (YPHP). The rehabilitation program was implemented by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

In its recently-released 2017 annual audit report, state auditors questioned the lack of manpower, splitting of contracts, and extension of contacts which lead to the delayed completion of permanent housing sites in Eastern Samar.

Yolanda made international headlines 5 years ago after claiming thousands of lives and leaving unimaginable destruction in several parts of the country, including Eastern Visayas.

Inadequate supplies, manpower: COA said one contractor awarded 10 projects worth P852.727 million did not have the capacity to undertake the massive project to begin with. The unnamed contractor merely submitted a “list of personnel” and “list of equipment” for the projects in 2014.

“The said lists of manpower and equipment were not sufficient to undertake the 10 projects awarded to only one contractor for the construction of 2,559 units under the YPHP,” the COA said.

State auditors said NHA should have immediately disqualified the contractor following government procurement rules. It hit the NHA for failing to “fully monitor” the sufficiency supplies and personnel needed for each project.

The lack of adequate manpower and supplies delayed the project from 5% to as much as 91% based on the scheduled completion of the project.

According to COA, the NHA already terminated 9 of the 10 project contracts awarded to the contractor but not before extensions 33 times over the limit were granted. This was equivalent to 2,671 days beyond the contract duration of 2,055 days.

Responding to COA, the NHA said problems were due to oversight and their belated progress reviews. State auditors likewise noted the NHA only started to noticing the need to “strengthen the requirement for the list of manpower and equipment” after Site Memorandum Reports were issued.

For these 10 projects, the COA recommended the NHA charge the contractor the cost of damages. It also said the NHA should properly review and validate documents presented by bidders to ensure only qualified contractors will be chosen.

Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone welcomed the COA’s findings. He had sought an investigation into the irregularities in government resettlement project in his district.

“All responsible persons and entities should really be made accountable to give justice to the victims of typhoon Yolanda. The massive anomalies surrounding the implementation of Yolanda housing projects are totally unacceptable and a huge insult to the victims,” he said.

NHA violated procurement law: COA also said the NHA violated several government procurement laws when it split contracts for 3 housing sites into 8 smaller ones worth some P654.594 million in what it said was an “accommodation.”

According to COA, the unnamed contractor was supposed to undertake projects worth P100 million or lower but was awarded a total of P654.594 million instead. The 3 contracts were broken down into the following:

State auditors said this violated Government Procurement Reform Law, the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board circular 1 (S. 2009), and the terms of reference for the YPHP.

The NHA denied it split the contracts, saying only one contractor had submitted a project. The COA, though, said its finding still stands.

It recommended the NHA file charges against officials and the contractor for violating the law. –