Monday, February 28, 2011

How Philippine public officials rob the coffer (Part 1)

by Mortz C. Ortigoza
Does Senator Migz Zubiri know that his staff allegedly pocketed eight percent of the almost P600 thousand of the  countryside development  fund infamously known as pork barrel he gave recently to each of the selected mayors in Pangasinan?
When he was in this province he announced to all and sundry that if any of his staff asks for a share in the money intended for the infrastructure project, concerned individuals should inform him pronto...

Here is a problem now: A mayor is persistent to get the cell phone number of the senator because the contractor who bided a school building project has told him that aside from being kept in the dark about the projects, the staff of Zubiri has already taken the eight percent from the whole payment that should go to the contractor..
“I thought the percentages taken by senator or congressman run up to 25 percent? Why in this case a minuscule of eight percent only?” I posed to the mayor.
He told me that greed is mitigated when it’s a school building, unlike other infrastructure projects funded by the pork barrel.
In my earlier column, a contractor told me that a solon pocketed personally up to 40 percent of the pork if the project is flood control like dredging. He said accomplishment report of the river bed is hard to verify by government officials who dare to investigate it.
Anyway, nobody investigates it since everybody is in cahoots with somebody.
Woe to lawmakers in other countries. Philippine politicians are the luckiest animal that ever live in the universe.
Wasn’t our country one of the most corrupt economies in the Asian region according to the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy?
That’s why months before the national election in May 10, 2010, former president Gloria M. Arroyo approved P6 billion flood control project for her favorite solons to implement.
One town in Northern Luzon was a recipient of a P300 million flood control project. But during the wrath of Typhoon Juan in October 2010, 10 dikes in this place collapsed. Reason: Sub-standard projects done by contractors.
Was it because of the prohibited percentage asked by the lawmaker that made the contractor built a sub-standard project?
In that P300 million infrastructure, the solon laughed to the banks with a staggering P120 million commission.
Susmariosep, who said that public office is a thankless job?
These are the ways officials of a Local Government Unit in a province, city, or town rob taxpayers’ money.
A veteran official of an LGU who knows the nuances of corruption told me that a P10 million road project would cost only two-third.
He said however that this would not swell to an unimaginable proportion if the following officials would not pocket a significant portions of the P10 million.
He explained that before the project would be constructed it should first undergoes the following:
a) Publication of the project in a newspaper of general circulation or in a conspicuous place; b)Securing prospective bidder; c) Filing of the bidders of the documents’) Pre-Bidding Conference; and e) Submission of the Bid .
He told me that the engineering office only published the total price of P10 million. But it did not put the following costs like administrative overhead, 3.5 %; Value Added Tax, 12 %; Contractor’s Profit, 10%; Overhead Contingency, 10 %.
He said it takes only three winning bidders for the final bid to start.
“But usually these three bidders are in cahoots with each other. Some of them win; some of them lose once in a while”.
The custom is each of them is given by the winning bidder a commission.
The commissions go to the following personalities:
Mayor 15% or P1.5 million; Sanggunian Panlalawigan, Panlungsod, or Bayan 5% or 500 thousand; Bids & Award Committee; 1% or P100; Engineering 1% or P100 thousand Auditor 1% or P100 thousand; Accountant 1/2 % or P50 thousand; Budget 1/2% or P50 thousand; Losing bidders 1% or P50 thousand each.
With P2. 5 million going to the “bosses”, P7. 5 million goes to the cost, taxes, and the contractor’s profit.

Take what a disappointed mayor told me about how corruption gnawed a town or a city that enters into a multi million of pesos’ contract with a bank to fund its project like building a municipal or city hall.
“Madugo iyan! (its bloody!)” a mayor told me.
He said that before the multi-million pesos of loan is approved by the lawmaking body, corrupt members of the Sanguniaang Bayan or Sanguniaan Panlungsod lobby to the mayor how much S.O.P (Standard Operational Procedure) each of them will get.
“Iyung mga councilors namin dito masyadung makapal. Humihingi ng tag-i-isang milyon bago daw nila aprobahan ang loan sa banko,” the disappointed hizzoner told me.
Tsk, tsk, tsk. The real losers here are the residents of the local government unit. They will be deprived of better public services. Because the money intended for these services goes to the yearly amortization of the principal and the interest their leaders entered in a grossly disadvantageous loan contract.
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