P4.8M plan, design for new PAO office legal: Acosta

MANILA Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta on Thursday said that PHP4.8 million budget as initial payment for the plan and design of a new PAO building is under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Acosta made the remark in reaction to the Commission on Audit (COA) report questioning the payments made in 2017.

The COA report questioned PAO for the partial payment amounting to PHP1.8 million and PHP3 million on March 16, 2017 and August 2, 2017, respectively, even without the supporting documents needed for the release of funds.

The PAO entered an agency-to-agency agreement with the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the architectural and detailed engineering design of the proposed PAO Central Office Building along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

Acosta said that a budget has been allotted under the GAA for the plan and design, which was made by the NHA with the approval of the DPWH.

Ang MOA (memorandum of agreement) po niyan ay progressive billing, pag may natapos na na-phase dun sa design (Under the MOA it is progressive billing, so payment is made following a completed phase in the design), she told a press briefing in Manila after filing another criminal complaint in connection with controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Under the MOA, the NHA will prepare the conceptual design and planning of the project and prepare architectural working drawings and specifications upon the approval of the DPWH.

The DPWH, meanwhile, was tapped to approve engineering plans, specifications and the detailed cost estimates for the entire project.

Acosta said that PHP12 million is the total amount to be paid to the NHA and DPWH but PAO only paid PHP4.8 million because the project is not yet finished.

She said that PAO might have ended up paying PHP200 million had it used a private firm for the plans and design.

Hindi po kumuha ng private architectural company ang PAO. Government to government transaction po para wala pong lalabas na pondo ang gobyerno (The PAO did not get a private architectural company. It was a government-to-government transaction so no funds will leave government hands), she said.

The COA, however, said the MOA entered with NHA and DPWH did not include provisions for liquidated damages, being an essential part of a conventional government contract, to answer for delays, inconsistencies or changes in the design of the project. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency