Sabado, Marso 26, 2011

How Philippine officials pocketed some loans from gov’t banks

The press conference called recently by the leadership of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in Region 1 and western Cordillera Autonomous Region was a treat.
I asked its beauteous Vice President, Filipina B. Monje, if they have measures to prevent inherently corrupt local government officials in the province, cities, and towns who embezzle some of the loaned monies lent by the bank to them.
“It is common knowledge among few members of the media that a portion of the monies lent by your bank for government projects were divided and pocketed by the chief executives and their cohorts at the lawmaking bodies,” I declared.
Monje said that LBP has a measure to discourage this shenanigan. She called this as”progress billing.” It means the bank releases the sum by tranches on the length of constructions of an infrastructure (government building, plaza, and others) as it progresses.
“So, pag nag submit iyung contractor, at nag-request iyung Local Government Unit ito ay pinupuntahan ng ating project appraisers,” she stressed.
Monje explained that the appraisers look for the completion of work the LGUs have submitted to them. She said the bank estimates the range of the cost of the construction then the head office of LBP in the area gives the cost of the project.
When I asked her if this “project billing” is tight proof to stave-out any misdemeanors by public officials, Monje told me that they complied with what Republic Act 9184(The Government Procurement Reform Act) mandates them to do.
In a huddle after the conference, she agreed to the observations that the other deterrence for government officials to commit graft and corruption were the laws on Commission on Audit, the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A 3019).
Despite these measures, I still wonder why our politicians can still do their sleight of hands by pocketing millions of precious government funds for their aggrandizement.
Take what a councilor in a town in Region 1 divulged to me.
He told me that a P70 million loan was eventually unanimously passed by his drooling colleague at the August Chamber. This after the opposition who composed the majority (six of them out of the ten members) successfully lobbied with the mayor to part each of the ten members a half-a-million pesos.
The P70 million loan were used to fund a public market.
With the P5 million cut diverted to these vultures at the Sangguninang Bayan and the conservatively P1 million “S.O.P (Standard Operational Procedure)” withheld by the hizzoner, the taxpayers in that local government unit are short changed by P6 million from the more than P70 million loan their constituents will pay yearly through the loan’s amortization’s that include of course the interest that made the Land Bank as the biggest lender of LGU’s in Pinoy Land.
Now for a perceptive reader like you, you would probably pose:” How the heck would these SOB thieves in the public service justify their project that cost less than P70 million to the supposedly meticulous eyes of the bank, the COA, and the media?
This after they construct a substandard public market that probably saw some cast irons (bituka) inside of its concrete walls made of cheaper bamboos as what a cemented drainage’s cover that was discovered in a town in Eastern Pangasinan after a hauler truck overran it?
This stealth thrown by our shrewd government officials to us are worth contemplating.
Susmariosep, this is world class! Was this the reason our pathetic government was included by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the Far East lately?
Does it mean some of the vanguards in those government bodies I mentioned have something to do why corruptions thrive in our midst?
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