Friday, October 21, 2011

The Anatomy of Corruption in Dredging Operation

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

I wrote an article before how corrupt government officials pocketed as much as 40 to 60 percent from the funds appropriated on their dredging operation project of a lake or a river.
It means up to P6 million scarce government monies went to the pocket of these vultures if a certain project cost P10 million.
A veteran contractor whose clients are senators, congressmen, Departments of Public Works & Highway and Agriculture, and the National Irrigation Authority told me that “sounding” is of no value if the implementer is corrupt government officials.
“Sounding” is a gauge using a rod to know how deep the river and lake are from the water bed up to the surface before and after the dredging operation, my source told me.
It means the Commission on Audit (COA) particularly would know the volume of silts that have been taken by the backhoe on a barge or a dredging machine in a certain area of a river or lake.
“A representative of the COA and field engineers of the department or agency concern measure it vertically as a requisite of a pre-audit .”
He deplores how these people usually concoct an imagined gauge in a post audit because the same government officials including the private sub-contractors were in cahoots with each other at the expense of the people’s monies.
A representative from the COA who is assigned in a notoriously corrupt public work’s office in the region told me that pre-audit of a dredging operation has been stopped a long time ago.
“Wala na iyang pre-audit. Matagal ng tinangal iyan as far as our office is concerned.”
Now I know why Transparency International ranked the Philippines as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
The Berlin based anti-corruption outfit ranks the Philippines 134th in a list of 176 countries arranged according to how bad the level of corruption in government is globally perceived to be last year.
Dr. Danny Sison, Assistant Superintendent of the Department of Education in Pangasinan- 1 and head of its Bids & Award Committee (BAC) would not entertain media men in his office recently who want to ask him some questions why a DepEd funded school building sans paint, toilet, ceiling, to name a few cost P750 thousand while its counterpart building with all the amenities the former lacks costs only P350,000.
According to my source, Sison would immediately entertain if the visitors in his office are contractors and suppliers.
Who is this judge who interceded for the downgrading of a case filed by the Lingayen police against a certain Dr. Andico — a professor of the Pangasinan State University?
According to a source, Andico was arrested and locked-up by the police because of illegal possession of a 9mm pistol in Andrea Beer house in Lingayen last October 6.
“He should be charged with Illegal Possession of Firearm and not Alarm and Scandal,” my source whispered to me.
Alarm & Scandal carries either a mere penalty or fine of Arresto Menor (1 day to 30 days imprisonment) or 200 pesos.
Illegal Possession of Firearm metes a penalty and fine of prision correctional in its maximum period ( up to 6 years in prison) and a fine of not less that Fifteen Thousand pesos(P15,000.00) as based on the amended Republic Act No. 8294.
Eng.Reynaldo Mencias, Project Manager of the multi-billion pesos funded Agno River Integrated Irrigation Project (ARRIP), was on hot seat recently in a modified program of ABS-CBN – Dagupan City.
I asked him via phone-patch if it was true that government offices like Department of Public Works & Highway, National Irrigation Authority, Department of Agriculture, and others forego the pre-audit by the Commission on Audit of “sounding ( a gauge using a rod to know how deep the river and lake are from the water bed up to the surface before and after the dredging)” every time there is a dredging operation.
“Yes, there was a circular that pre-audit for dredging has been abolished,” he said.
Susmariosep, without a pre-audit of heavily silted river that needs dredging, vultures in Congress and bigwigs of those government offices I mentioned could feast more because of the loot they can get from the dredge.
As you know corruption at a dredging operation reached as much as 60 percent.
It means P6 million out of the P10 Million budget goes to the pocket of grafters.
Now I know why some towns and cities are flooded every time there is a drizzle or typhoon.
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