BAGUIO CITY – The public works department rebuffed the sugar-coated claims of Baguio City officials that it was the slippage of the agency’s contractors that caused the delays in the implementation of projects funded by downloaded funds from the agency that resulted to the eventual forfeiture of the multi-million funds by the end of 2023.
In a statement, the DPWH pointed out that the city government is fully aware that the projects that were not completed due to various issues on workmanship and technicalities must be implemented in one fiscal year as mandated by the cash-based budgeting system of the national government enshrined under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11936 and succeeding budget circulars.
It added that city officials are no exemptions, including the city mayor especially that he has been a famous ‘crusader’ on the proper use of public funds, hence, it is improper for him to allege and wrongly conclude that the DPWH is disinclined to release the appropriated funds since the earmarked funds for the said projects that were not used automatically reverted to the national coffers pursuant to the operation of law.
The DPWH–Baguio City District Engineering Office (BCDEO) stated that it is merely following the mandate of applicable laws and issuances on the disbursement of public funds, particularly Commission on Audit–Department of Budget and Management (COA-DBM) Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2021 and National Budget Circular No. 587 dated January 3, 2022 and to release appropriated funds beyond the allowable period of time of one year is administratively and criminally wrong.
The DPWH-BCDEO lamented the unfounded insinuations of the city mayor, who seems to be continuously misled into believing that the agency’s projects are substandard, despite the rigorous efforts of the agency to comply with appropriate standards in project implementation.
The city mayor’s mere suspicion prompted him to file cases against DPWH-BCDEO officials before the Ombudsman to evidently justify his ‘crusade.’
However, the Ombudsman dismissed with finality the said case and even reiterated the same in the outright denial of the motion for reconsideration.
The DPWH-BCDEO emphasized that the Ombudsman’s clear decision is worthy to highlight: “Without a clear showing of how this office erred in appreciating his (referring to the city mayor) averments and the pieces of evidence and for failing to submit any newly discovered evidence, there is no basis to modify or reverse the assailed joint resolution which this office arrived at after thorough consideration of all relevant facts and issues and pieces of evidence that were presented and submitted by the parties. Thus, this office maintains its disposition that the criminal and administrative charges against the respondents (referring to DPWH-BCDEO officials) should be dismissed for lack of probable cause and substantial evidence.’
According to the statement, with the favorable decision of the Ombudsman, the DPWH-BCDEO remains to have a strong and unwavering commitment to implement its mandate to serve the public, particularly in providing quality, safe, and environment-friendly public infrastructure facilities for the city’s citizens.
Earlier, the city government issued a statement as posted in the City Public Information Office that tends to blame the DPWH contractors for the failed completion of funded projects that caused the forfeiture of funds earmarked for the projects.
Among the affected projects include the construction of the Baguio City Youth Convergence Center at the Baguio Athletic Bowl, the construction of the two multipurpose buildings at the Wright Park and the put up of the Irisan Barangay Hall.
Sources questioned the city government’s illogical reasoning when it was the city that conducted the public bidding and selected the contractors to whom the projects were awarded, thus, such allegations were out of context.
The source claimed that it was through the resolution filed by Councilor Maria Mylen Victoria G. Yaranon that uncovered the alleged substandard works of the contractor in the put up of the multipurpose building at Wright park which was validated by the concerned offices of the city government.
The source emphasized that what is ironic at this time is that city officials continue to harp at substandard projects when the projects being questioned were the works of the contractors that were prequalified and selected by the city’s Bids and Awards Committee.
Worst, the source argued that the unused project funds automatically reverted to the national coffers after it was not used effective January 1, 2024, thus, there are no more funds that will be released to the city government for these affected projects and that it will now be up to the city to complete the unfinished projects. Contributed Article