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Editorial

Flood-control fail

/ 05:08 AM August 28, 2019

Either the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) just does not know what it is supposed to do to solve the perennial problems of floods that paralyze the metropolis, or it is just too lazy to get its act together.

Either way, it is the taxpayer who is left shortchanged and wading through disease-carrying and damaging floods — which, as the MMDA itself admitted, took longer to subside in 2018, no thanks to its failure yet again to complete on time crucial flood-control projects.

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The Commission on Audit (COA) revealed this month in its 2018 report that the MMDA had failed to complete 117 — or a whopping 69 percent — of the 170 programmed flood control projects worth P878.57 million.

The projects did not even have procurement timelines in place, meaning there were no set dates for each procurement activity, from announcement of the project to contract signing, that were supposed to be provided for every approved project.

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Of the projects that were not implemented, the COA said 72 worth P524.649 million were either not completed within the specific schedule, or were not even started “due to inadequate planning and absence of coordination mechanisms” with other agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and affected local government units (LGUs).

Other reasons the MMDA offered for the project delays included: overlapping with ongoing projects of the DPWH and LGUs, resulting in changes in the original job order; and delays in the issuance of traffic/excavation permits, clearances from barangays and affected communities. All boiling down to “ineffective planning and procurement,” according to the COA.

The MMDA’s report card for 2018 is truly horrendous: Of the 170 flood control projects for implementation and completion in 2018, only 53 were completed; 53 were ongoing, while a staggering 64 projects had not even started as of the end of last year — 50 of which had already been awarded to the respective contractors with a notice to proceed.

And then, of the 53 that managed to be completed in 2018, all were finished only in the third and fourth quarters of 2018, thus “defeating the intent of mitigating or preventing the impact of heavy rains to the public at large to which these projects could easily serve their purposes,” the COA said. One could practically hear the public’s sigh of frustration in that statement.

Needless to say, the MMDA fell short — far short — of its performance goal to complete “100 percent” of the projects prior to the onset of the rainy season.

That’s not all. Adding to the metro’s aggravation, only 41.63 percent of waterways and drainage systems were declogged and desilted last year.

The COA noted that as early as 2010, the Department of Budget and Management had already issued a circular allowing government agencies to undertake procurement activities, short of the actual award, even before the General Appropriations Act was approved, so that agencies could start implementing projects in the first quarter of the year, considering good weather conditions.

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This, the MMDA failed to do.

There may be causes of delay outside of MMDA’s control, such as unfavorable weather conditions, but, as the COA pointed out, issues such as coordinating with LGUs and other government agencies are firmly within the MMDA’s control.

The MMDA admitted as much; it said it “concurred” with the COA that the proposed flood control projects had not been properly coordinated with the concerned agencies during the planning and pre-implementation stages.

This isn’t the first time the MMDA’s attention was called by the COA. In 2017, 47 of the 68 programmed flood control projects worth a combined P337.48 million were also not completed within the set timelines.

In 2016, when the Duterte administration took over, the same issues were cited, with P178.882 million worth of projects either not implemented nor completed. Same reasons cited: inadequate planning and lack of coordination with other agencies.

The COA is once again prodding the MMDA to ensure “a more effective and synchronized planning” of vital programs and projects: “Issues like relocation of informal settlers, viability of the project sites and overlapping of projects with DPWH and LGUs should be addressed and resolved during the feasibility or preliminary engineering study prior to project implementation to arrive at decisions most advantageous to the government.”

Basic, much-repeated reminder. But will the MMDA finally do it? And when will the administration finally crack the whip on the agency’s dismal record?

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TAGS: COA, Commission on Audit, flood control, Inquirer editorial, Metro Manila flooding, MMDA
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