CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Contrary to accusations of irregularities committed allegedly by the city’s local chief executive, the Commission on Audit-10 (COA-10) has reported that there was no overpricing in the construction of more than five hundred classrooms in various public primary and secondary schools here, documents from that agency show.
From 2014 to 2019, the city government has built 548 classrooms, with 48 more under construction, as education remains one of Mayor Oscar Moreno’s priority programs when he assumed the position in 2013.
These classrooms were found to be in compliance with government regulations, COA-10 noted in its reports.
COA-10 chief technical audit specialist Carlo Galenzoga, in his reports submitted to COA-10 state auditor Florita Kionisala, said the approved budget for the contract and the contract cost were “both lower than the COA Evaluated Cost, hence, the same was found reasonable and in order.”
A separate report from the City Engineer’s Office has shown that in 2014, for instance, the project cost for the construction of 181 classrooms was P207,364,154.82, but the contract amount was P207,084,948.52.
In an exclusive interview, Mayor Oscar Moreno said the charges filed against him have no basis as the COA-10 has not red-flagged city hall in the implementation of these projects.
Moreno said the complaint filed by a certain Mike Pada was politically motivated.
Pada accused Moreno of overpricing the construction of these classrooms.
Moreno has also assured Pada’s complaint has no impact on his function as the city mayor.
“It has no effect on my performance, never has, never does, and it never will,” he said.
“It’s obvious that there is a political agenda behind this and was carried out to create an image of me as being besieged with so many cases. Who knows, maybe next week they will file another case,” Moreno said.
He said these projects, funded from the special education fund, are above board and that he finds it unthinkable to commit an irregularity given that these would have to go through stringent auditing standards.
What prompted the city government to build these hundreds of classrooms, Moreno said, was the congestion of students in some public schools.
“There was a shortage of classrooms, as a result, our children are not learning enough,” he said, adding that pupils have more free time than school time because classes were in three shifts.
“Having a three-shift schedule is very scandalous, at the very least. The most affected are the children. They were not learning enough,” Moreno said.
Aside from the buildings, the city hall has also acquired lots in which to building school buildings and classrooms.
Besides, he said, it is the Local School Board (LSB), a multi-sectoral body that crafts education-related policies, that approves the budget for these projects.
According to the Local Government Code, the LSB can authorize treasurers at the local government level “to disburse funds from the Special Education Fund pursuant to the budget prepared and in accordance with existing rules and regulations.”
A member of the LSB, who requested not to be named, said that the approval of the budget for the classroom construction underwent a thorough process.
“All processes in the school board are vetted and follow established rules and procedure. The presence of civil society in the LSB is also an innovation and serves as a counter check, transparency and participation mechanism,” the LSB member said. (davaotoday.com)