Government agencies' overpriced purchases, questionable transactions go viral

·Contributor
·3 min read
(Source: Commission on Audit/Facebook)
(Source: Commission on Audit/Facebook)

The Commission on Audit (COA) has been making headlines in the past few weeks for flagging government transactions. The news first blew up after the agency first reported “deficiencies” in the health department’s handling of some P67-billion ($1.33) COVID-19 funds that led to “missed opportunities” in the government’s pandemic response.

Since then, state auditors have flagged several other agencies. Here’s a rundown of some of the most ridiculous purchases and transactions making rounds on social media:

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Infinity Pool

(Source: Philippine Ports Authority/Facebook)
(Source: Philippine Ports Authority/Facebook)

According to the state auditors, the project for PPA's training facility in La Union cost roughly P10.80 million ($214,000). The facility's project cost included a jacuzzi, a guest room, a pergola, and a decorative rock wall, in addition to an infinity pool.

Department of Health (DOH) laptops

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DOH was heavily chastised when a bidding document for four high-end laptops worth P700,000 ($14,000) went viral online. Following the backlash, the health department put on hold the purchase of the items.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) napkins

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State auditors flagged OWWA's purchase of hygiene kits distributed during the pandemic. Sanitary pads were priced at P35 ($0.70) each. COA reported that the construction firm from which OWWA purchased the goods could not be found at its listed address.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) gadgets

Mobile devices and laptop charging on office desk (Photo: Getty Images)
Mobile devices and laptop charging on office desk (Photo: Getty Images)

State auditors also cited over P170 ($3.37) million worth of gadgets which included thousands of laptops, pocket wi-fi and tablets that DICT bought from the construction firm Lex-Mar General Merchandise. COA said that the supplier has "doubtful financial capacity to implement the projects." The agency added that Lex-Mar is also not involved in supply and delivery of gadgets and devices because its purpose is for general construction.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)’s release of funds to National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)

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TESDA transferred more than P160 ($3.17) million to the NTF-ELCAC in 2020 despite lacking authorisation, a move that auditors called "highly questionable." State auditors recommended that TESDA provide legal basis for the expenditure, noting that this may be a “ground for technical malversation of public funds."

Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (DBM-PS) face masks and face shields

FILE PHOTO: Senior woman holding protective mask worried of Coronavirus (Source: Getty Creatives)
FILE PHOTO: Senior woman holding protective mask worried of Coronavirus (Source: Getty Creatives)

COA reported that DBM-PS placed orders for overpriced COVID-19 purchases including face masks priced at P27.72 ($0.55) apiece and face shield priced at P120 ($2.37) each. During a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the issue Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon pointed out that the SRP for these items at P2-P4 ($0.04-0.08) per piece of face mask and P26-P50 ($0.51-$0.99) per piece of face shield. 

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) adobe software

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Netizens, including social news site We The Pvblic, also recalled the state insurance corporation’s overpriced IT project with a proposed budget of P21 million ($416,000) for adobe software that only cost P168,000 ($3,325) that was first exposed in July of last year.

Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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