A LAND ownership issue has prevented the Davao City government from building schools and implementing infrastructure projects, a city official admitted.
This came on the heels of a 2018 audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that was released Friday, June 14, 2019, revealing that the city underspent its available funds worth more than P320 million.
According to COA, a total of P292.15 million was allocated for the construction of school buildings under the Special Education Funds (SEF) but only 25 percent of the funds worth P74.48 million was spent as of December 31, 2018.
The agency said this resulted in a shortage of 1,412 classrooms in all levels as of June 2018.
“The delay or underimplementation of projects may have affected the efficiency and effectiveness of the LGU (local government unit) and deprived students of sufficiently instructional space that could have been derived from additional school building projects,” the COA report said.
The auditing agency said the city's underspending is "depriving the students of the benefits from additional classrooms had the projects been completed".
COA recommended the local government to require the Local School Board and other concerned divisions to reassess its processes and procedures to fast-track the completion of these projects.
The agency said the Programming and Design Division (PDD) of the City Engineer's Office and the Local School Board (LSB) reported that only 20 out of the slated 54 projects were implemented.
PDD said the construction delay was to lack of manpower and schools' failure to produce land ownership documents.
City assistant administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo agreed with PDD's reason.
"Unless we can present sufficient proof that we have the authority to own the land to construct something, the city cannot proceed to the construction," Domingo told reporters on Monday, June 17, 2019.
The official said some of the projects were included in the city budget as per recommendation by different agencies.
"The city was generous enough to accommodate it in our budget. Whether to fund this building, structure, edifice, classrooms, etc.," Domingo said.
"When the time comes for us to get the requirements gikan sa mga nagrequest ani, wala na nila na follow up (When the time came for us to get the requirements to those who requested it, they were not able to follow up it)," Domingo added.
With this, he said the city will follow COA's recommendation. He also said the local government will now also be cautious in accepting requests.
He said agencies who will be requesting for certain projects from the city will now be forwarded to appropriate agencies, such as City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) and CEO.
Davao City Councilor Pilar Braga, who chairs the education committee of the City Council, reported previously that the city government established 50 new public schools, including in far-flung areas like Paquibato District.