COA: Palace bureau paid P100K for dead phone lines
MANILA, Philippines — No dial tone, no payment.
But a Malacañang communication service still paid PLDT Inc. some P100,000 for landlines that were not working, clearly an imprudent use of public funds.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has directed the Bureau of Communications Services (BCS) to recover the P110,081.51 it had paid to the telecommunications giant.
The BCS is an attached agency of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) tasked with providing materials and services related to various functions of the presidency and the PCOO. It also produces information materials for state events.
In its annual audit report, the COA said the bureau paid bills for seven months although nine out of 12 lines for key officials had bogged down and were virtually unusable starting June 2018.
“As there was no repair or maintenance made by the agency, the nine lines fully bogged down in October 2018. Despite the situation, BCS paid and [is] … still paying the monthly service fees for the inoperative lines,” the report said.
It was only in November 2018 that the BCS reached out to its parent agency, the PCOO, to request a telephone technician to fix the problem.
“It was diagnosed that the problem was caused by worn-out telephone wires and telephone units of BCS, and by faulty cabling from the PLDT main distribution frame,” the audit report said.
It said that while “concerned maintenance personnel” reported the issues to PLDT, the company had not solved the faulty cabling, “to the disadvantage of the agency and the government.”
No cost-benefit analysis
In November 2018, the BCS made a purchase request to replace broken phone lines and units.
The dismal response to the lack of phone service can be attributed to the bureau’s failure to come up with proper administrative guidelines on the maintenance of its communication lines, according to the COA.
“Per inquiry, the agency has not conducted assessment or cost-benefit analysis on the quality of service provided by PLDT Inc. despite … [the] existing conditions,” the audit body said.
Aside from ordering the BCS to demand a refund from PLDT, the COA directed the agency to formulate guidelines on how telephone cables, parts and units could be regularly maintained and kept serviceable.
The COA urged the BCS to put in place a monitoring system for troubleshooting telephone line problems.
The BCS has agreed to follow the audit body’s recommendations.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.