Kawawang Palawan

BUDBOD ng asin at basbas na dalangin ang isinasangkap sa tubig-ulan para maging agua bendita… na pangontra sa mga maligno at impakto.

Tataglayin ng tubig bawat isalin ditong sangkap, pati na sansang at lansa ng mga ATM ang budhi… kaya
marahil hindi kanais-nais ang lasa ng tubig na tustos sa mga taga-Palawan.

Uhaw sila sa paliwanag… kung bakit ang kanilang dating gobernador Joel T. Reyes at 10 lokal na pinuno hindi dapat ilublob sa kumukulong tubig kaugnay ng paglaspag sa P200-milyong inutang ng lalawigan para sa pantustos-tubig at sanitasyon.

Taxpayers will have to bleed for every cent—interest including—of such a loan given out by the World Bank through LandBank as part of the latter’s $36-million grant for improvement of water, sewerage, sanitation and drainage projects at the grassroots.

The provincial government trotted out a list of projects to be funded by the P200-million taxpayer’s debt– construction of 10 Barangay Environmental Sanitation Projects (BESP) – Water Supply and Sanitation Facilities.

Records show that by 2003 year-end, such projects had cost taxpayers P179,484,334.32 including consultancy fees and interest expense.

The rob, ooops, we mean “rub”—the year-end audit report on Palawan account and operations show construction cost for these projects was something similar to baker’s dough… leavened and rose to excess by P52,312,334.45.

Even after the auditors allowed for adjustments (mobilization/demobilization costs and such figures meant to befuddle bookkeepers), the dough was still too fat at P49,187,326.45—still a princely sum that ought to be refunded.

Rubbing salt to the inflictions on taxpayers, the projects turned out to be shoddy as auditors pointed to “blatant non-observance of generally accepted engineering principles (including) practices or irregularities committed that are detrimental or disadvantageous to the government.”

Auditors also unearthed “questionable disbursements P25,445,871.91 to the project consultants – C. Lotti & Associati – with no provision for withholding tax and other supporting documents.”

The contract for the projects, it was found, befit the description of a “ghost.” No date affixed, no specification as to the responsibilities of the parties, no contract amount… no terms of payment, and neither was the date of signing by the parties indicated. It was not even notarized— res ipsa loquitur, it proclaims itself as illegal.

By extension, the projects covered by such a contract can be deemed illegal. On the side, Reyes’ vice governor, David Ponce A. de Leon, is facing his own graft charges. The ex-vice governor and losing mayoral bet in Puerto Princesa City , has been accused of estafa for falsifying official receipts for reimbursements.

A special CoA team brought to light padded and tampered receipts used for reimbursements of snacks and meals that added to P314,656.89… it turned out the actual expense was only P343.11 but like a corpse, bloated to P204,656.89…

Fiddling sum pero kung sa konting pera ay hindi pala mapagtitiwalaan, paano pa kaya kung milyones na ang halaga?

We’re sorry for the Filipino taxpayers and Palaweños alike… they’ll be cursing and gnashing their teeth in righteous rage at their exploiters… who ought to be in hot water. Dong delos Reyes

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