I was formerly connected with the Commission on Audit during my college on-the-job training. The experience was both satisfying and fulfilling in the sense that I played a major role in contributing to society. I fervently did my task and carefully reviewed the documents I processed to validate and submit the documents with note-worthy discrepancies to my superior for re-checking. To no surprise, majority of the discrepancies I have noticed belonged to construction-related operations of the government sector. It is only now that I have graduated from college did I fully understand of what was really going on. Months before our university’s graduation, I have already started handing out application letters to both government and private sector alike. Shortly afterwards, I got hired in a private contracting company as an accounting staff.
During one of my coffee breaks, I noticed lumps of money in the company’s monthly financial statement. It was classified under “operational funds” and labeled as ‘security operational fund’ which made it more confusing since our security personnel are sourced-out from security agencies and was included under a different classification in the books. To my dismay, I learned months after that the amount indicated under security operational funds which always amounted to 25% of the total project cost was being given to the NPA group to prevent harassment of the projects. It was then that I remembered my days in COA when we used to evaluate even the bidding process of government projects. I conducted a personal study, not for anything else but rather to satisfy my own curiosity. I reviewed the company’s financial statements for the previous year and noted the amounts under security operational fund and came up with the following computations:
Total Project Cost (of all projects for the previous year): P 73,282,150.55 - 25% = P 18,320,537.6
While having coffee with the company engineer, I tried to elicit some facts with regards to construction particularly in the lifespan of a road concreting. The average lifespan of a highway, constructed properly in accordance with the DPWH specifications would last 15 years, less three (3) years in consideration of force majeure, thus having a 12-year life span. The average repair/retrofitting of our company of previously completed and turned-over projects is every 4 years on an average and at an average of 8% the previous project cost. Using the previous year’s total project cost, in computation it would be illustrated as such:
P 73,282,150.55 - 8% = P 5,862,572.04 (repair/retrofitting amount in 4 years)
The engineer further mentioned that a substandard project due to budget cut would at most halve the lifespan of the road project leaving its lifespan at around seven (7) to eight (8) years. In retrospect, I realized that the government will then have to re¬implement a P73-Million worth project within 9 years rather than 12 years. An PI 8 Million unplanned cost using the money of the taxpayer. Again, if to be illustrated, using our company’s projects for the previous year, the total cost of such transaction could be shown as such:
P 73,282,150.55 - cost of projects expected to last for 12 years P 73,282,150.55/12 years = P 6,106,845.88
Since the lifespan of the project is projected to last seven (7) - eight (8) years due to a substandard construction, there is a difference of 3 years which amounts to PI 8,320,537.6. It was then that I concluded based on my time with the COA and as part of the accounting staff of the company that the discrepancies I had noticed during my OJT days were partly due to this, the extortion activities of the NPA’s which were causing the Filipino people to pay off excess taxes by shouldering its so-called revolutionary tax.
I am not very particular with the struggles and concerns of the NPA for I never paid attention to an organization which results to violence and endangers the lives of many and the young to attain its principles. However, I do remember that one of their objectives is to raise the lives of the Filipinos by attaining equality. This objective and its means however, do not coincide with each other. The idea of adding an extra burden to the lives of many by extortion to attain their so-called equality is illogical. The extorted money, if channeled properly could be poured into books, school building, infrastructure projects, farm to market roads, facilities for health and other government programs/projects - projects intended for the people rather than being used for armed struggle which endangers the lives of many. It is just ironic that to attain progress, progress is subdued. FYI, PI 8 Million is equivalent to 800 meters of secondary road or 36 square meters of 1-storey health center, or 90,000 pieces of school
books worth P200 each - which would you prefer?
Name withheld as requested