A NUMBER of flood control projects of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) had only been finished when the capital was either already awash in or drained of rainwater.
The Commission on Audit disclosed in its latest report on the MMDA that for last year, 41 out of the 49 flood preventing projects were completed when the country in already experiencing heavy rains.
Quoting the state weather bureau, COA said rain is at its peak in the country from mid-second quarter to early fourth quarter as the habagat (southwest monsoon) brings in rain from May to October.
Drier season is seen by mid-fourth quarter to early second quarter as amihan (northeast monsoon) blows in less rain clouds.
Given this, not one of the 41 projects costing P224 million was completed by first quarter of 2012, a time when the country was dry.
Two were completed by second quarter, while 7 were finished by third quarter when rain is already settling in.
The bulk of projects—a total of 25—was only done during the fourth quarter or anytime between October and December.
This delayed implementation of projects “defeated the intent” of mitigating the impacts of heavy rains since monsoon rains peak in July to September and peter out in October, auditors said.
COA explained that for the whole bidding process of a flood control project—from advertising to award of contract—the MMDA would take about 80 days. Project implementation is estimated at 60 days or a total of “140 days or four and a half months to complete.”
However, since these 41 projects, which were unnamed in the report, were only bidded out starting second or third quarters of 2012, to finish them before the deluge started was remote.
The Audit agency said that the procurement activity for the flood control programs could have started “at an earlier quarter of the year” to expedite them.
COA cited a Budget department circular, stating that release of special allotment release order (SARO) “is not a pre-condition” to commence procurement, but only before issuance of a notice of award.
“The completion of projects scheduled on the first quarter of the year in consideration of our country’s weather condition cannot actually be compromised even without the release [SARO],” COA said.
COA added that if MMDA would push in advance the procurement, “projects should be completed and flooding mitigated before the rainy season strikes.”
“The least could be third quarter as any shortfall or deficiencies can be rectified within the time frame of implementation,” COA said.
Meanwhile, the eight unimplemented projects worth P97.6 million out of the 49 have not been utilized. These are, among others, the proposed pumping station and drainage improvement in Balong Bato in San Juan City and the dredging and desilting of Estero de Santo Niño in Pasay City.
“It appears that there had been no adequate planning done as it was noted that the absence of project procurement management plan,” COA said.
The MMDA said that “there are several factors” that affected the schedule of project implementation such as the need for coordination with various local government units and lawmakers before pre-construction activities.
JOHN CONSTANTINE GALVEZ