Police stations cheaper to build outside urban centers, says PNPBy Dona Z. Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday denied that its approved budget estimate for the construction of municipal police stations was overpriced, saying that the cost of construction varied depending on where structures were built.
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who has oversight powers over the PNP, has ordered the PNP leadership to lower by 10 percent its approved budget for contracts for the construction of municipal police stations.
Robredo called attention to contracts for three municipal police stations in Bicol that were constructed at an average cost of P3.5 million each. The three municipal police stations were built in San Jose and Tinambac in Camarines Sur and in San Andres in Catanduanes.
The PNP approved a budget of P5.1 million for each police station it planned to build.
Robredo said that the lower construction cost of the three police stations was the result of an “honest-to-goodness bid” conducted by PNP Regional Office 5.
But PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. said in a statement that it was cheaper to build in rural areas than in urban areas and island provinces.
He said the PNP Engineering Service explained that the contract cost for the construction of standard-designed municipal police station (MPS) buildings varied “depending on location.”
“The cost of construction in island provinces and urban centers is always higher than in rural areas where concrete aggregates and other materials are available for free,” Cruz said.
“Thus the P5.1-million cost of a standard MPS building is the average cost derived from a comparison of actual costs in the different locations for a similar project,” he said.
PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome has justified to Robredo the P5.1-million benchmark cost.
He also informed Robredo that any excess funds from the bidding would be used for “other construction work for the same station” such as perimeter fences and landscaping.
According to Cruz, the difference in the actual contract cost and the programmed cost is “reverted to the treasury as a matter of accounting and auditing procedure.”
“Thus savings are actually derived under such situations,” he said.
Cruz maintained that all transactions involving the construction of PNP facilities and buildings were “above-board and subject to government accounting and auditing procedures, and always to the advantage of the government.”