MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has noted “red flags” and will conduct a special audit of the allegedly overpriced P2.3 billion Makati City parking building.
Among the “red flags” noted by COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan include the quick award of the contracts and the diversion of the project into several phases.
Recently, the 11-story building is the center of the plunder case filed against father-and-son Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay and Vice President of the Philippines Jejomar Binay. Vice President Binay was then the mayor of the city when the construction of the parking building began in 2007. The plunder case was filed by their rivals Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso. Both were claiming that the building should have only cost the local government P700 million.
“It will go through a special audit. This will be handled by the central office, the special audit service. We will have a multi-disciplinary team,” Tan said during the Senate blue ribbon committee.
She said that one red flag that needs to be investigated would be the division of the project into five phases.
“In the usual course, it’s a red flag,” she said, in response to a question from Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III on whether the division of a project into phases triggered suspicion.
Tan also noted that one contract was awarded for each phase and lone bidders for the contracts.
Aside from that, the COA will also look into the appropriation, bidding out and awarding of the contract for the first phase of the project in two-and-a-half months. According to Tan, there was a city ordinance that set aside P400-million for phase one which was approved on November 8, 2007. On December 28, 2007, the project was bid out and awarded to Hilmarcs Construction Corporation on January 18, 20068.
“If all of these was because of efficiency, commendable. But in our experience, a contract of this magnitude and complexity would normally take at least six months or even a year to procure,” she said. “I do not wish to be prejudging at this time, but there are definitely matters we need to look into more intensively, more cautiously so that we can go into the bottom of this whole matter,” Tan added.