COA: Idle P487-M air traffic control center going to waste
MANILA, Philippines — State auditors have warned of public funds going to waste if the Department of Transportation (DOTr) does not use soon the completed Manila Area Control Center (MACC) in Pasay City, which was built at a cost of P487 million.
The MACC was meant to replace the Eurocrat 200, the air control center of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap).
In a 2019 audit report on the DOTr, the Commission on Audit (COA) cited the MACC project’s Phase 1 and Phase 2, which had remained idle for nine years since their completion. The two were among the department’s seven projects that had been either completed or terminated.
The first phase of the project began in September 2009 and was finished in February 2010 at a cost of P297,151,010, while the second phase started in June 2010 and was finished in November that year at a cost of P190,592.730.
“The new MACC project Phases 1 and 2 with total payments amounting to P487,743,740, which were substantially completed in CY 2010, had remained idle and not utilized since its completion,” the COA said.
These were “allegedly below the standards required by international civil aviation, hence were never accepted and commissioned by the Caap as end-user,” the audit agency said.
The DOTr commissioned the new Communications Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Systems Development Project in October 2017, which the Caap was now using as replacement of the new MACC, “making it outdated and technologically obsolete,” according to the COA report.
COA auditors also noted that the DOTr was looking for other government agencies that can use the new MACC, such as the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Coast Guard. “No further information was provided on the realization of the plan, thus the projects remain idle and unused to date,” they said.
No continuity plans
Five terminated DOTr projects, for which the government had shelled out P39.66 million, are still idle “with no continuity plans,” the report said. These are:
• Extension of runway and expansion of terminal building of Roxas Airport worth P28.27 million
• Development of Santa Fe Port, P2.6 million
• Improvement of toilets at the Manila International Airport Authority, P4.8 million
• Concreting of runway of Marinduque Airport, P1.2 million
• Construction of the Buhatan Port, P2.6 million.
Reasons for termination
The projects were terminated for various reasons, such as right-of-way issues, abandonment by contractor due to the complexity of work involved, contractor’s failure to secure a quarry permit, and the contractor’s unsatisfactory performance, the COA said.
Together with the completed yet idle new MACC project, these idle projects cost the government around P527.410 million, it added.
The state auditors pointed out that the seven projects would be exposed to further deterioration and technological obsolescence if the DOTr will not act fast to make them productive.
“The purposes of those projects, which is primarily the provision of safe, efficient and reliable modern transportation system in the country could not be attained. Resultantly, the payments made in relation thereof will result in wastage of public funds,” the COA report said.
The DOTr, in a letter dated Feb. 5, 2020, said it had resorted to legal remedies, such as the imposition of liquidated damages, issuance of blacklisting order, and forfeiture of performance bonds against the erring contractors to protect government interest and resources.
“Management is commended for the steps it had undertaken to protect government resources. However, management did not provide the audit team its continuity plans for the completion of the terminated projects and back-up plans on how to make the new MACC successful and productive to ensure that scarce government resources are not wasted,” the COA said.
Not compensatory payment
In the case of the Marinduque Airport project contractor who was unable to secure a permit to quarry due to a pending Ombudsman case, it said the advances given to the contractor should have been refunded and not treated as compensatory payment.
“Prior or upon project termination, continuity or back-up plans should immediately be in place to avoid deterioration of the portion accomplished by the contractor and prevent loss and wastage of government resources,” the COA said.
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