MMDA wasted gov’t funds on NAIA rotunda – COA
MANILA, Philippines – State auditors said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) wasted government funds when it spent P803,000 for the beautification of the Circulo Del Mundo Rotunda in Pasay City, despite knowing that the structure was set to be demolished.
In its annual audit report for 2014, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the MMDA incurred unnecessary expenses when it installed park lamps and planted 150 trees at the rotunda near terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in August 2012 and July 2013.
The egg-shaped steel structure, which cost P50 million, was completed in 2010. It was part of the beautification project of the MMDA and the Manila International Airport Authority.
While the NAIA expressway project started in January 2014, state auditors said that the National Economic and Development Authority board already approved the project as early as May 2012.
"Certainly, the resulting demolition of the Layag Islas structure at the Circulo Del Mundo Rotunda in Andrews Avenue had been expected even in the early stage of planning the expressway project and, therefore, there should be no need to further improvement to beautify the said structure to prevent wastage of government funds," COA said.
The commission said the MMDA spent P308,000 for the installation of park lamps in 2012, and P495,000 for the delivery of 150 trees at the mini forest and botanical garden in 2013.
Responding to auditors' comments, the MMDA said that the expenses "shouldn't be considered wastage" of government funds.
The agency said that the park lamps were installed in response to "numerous complaints" of nearby residents "regarding the peace and order situation within the area."
The MMDA also said that while waiting for the start of the construction of the NAIA expressway, it decided to use the area as nursery for its tree planting project, "not for beautification."
"Planting is one of the activities being undertaken by the MMDA to maximize the use of open spaces, create a buffer zone for air pollution, and generate a cooling effect around the planting area. These are reasons why we opted to plant trees in the Circulo Del Mundo grounds to attain the objectives of environmental protection," the MMDA said.
"Also the trees and shrubs were balled and transplanted to another site for these plants to attain growth stability," the agency added.
But state auditors were not convinced with the MMDA's response. COA pointed out that if the agency merely wanted to ensure peace and order in the area, it should have installed simple lamp posts, not "stylish park lamps which will be demolished after a short period."
Auditors also said that the 150 trees purchased by the agency were already 10 to 15 feet tall and no longer needed a nursery.
"A nursery is a place where plants are propagated and grown to usable size. In this case, however, the size of the trees purchased did not seem to be needing a nursery," auditors said.
"Moreover, although the trees were transferred to other locations, it cannot be denied that more expenses were incurred by the Authority in transferring them which could have been avoided, aside from the risk of losing the trees," COA added. – Rappler.com