Container ships are seen in the port area in Manila in this file photo. — PHILIPPINE STAR/WALTER BOLLOZOS

THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has flagged the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for buying unnecessary items worth P18.48 million under its infrastructure projects.

In a 2023 audit report posted on its website on Monday, state auditors said “various office equipment, furniture, computers computer software and high-end models and brands of electronic gadgets totaling P18.48 million were continuously procured through inclusion as reimbursable items in several dredging and infrastructure projects.”

These “unnecessarily increased project cost and created an oversupply,” according to the audit report.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.

Buying high-end or expensive models of electronic gadgets is unnecessary unless justified, CoA said, citing an October 2012 circular.

It noted that the PPA’s Engineering and Controllership Department had said it would stop including reimbursable items in its contracts for infrastructure projects.

The department would advise concerned contractors to “defer the procurement of the said items presently included” and “deduct its value in the billings,” CoA said.

State auditors also cited the “inadequate conduct of detailed engineering” for locally funded infrastructure projects that resulted in the suspension of five projects worth P1.94 billion.

CoA said the projects were suspended due to pending issuances of environmental compliance certificates, fuel cost increase and dredging by a private corporation within one of the areas involved in the project.

CoA also found that parcels of land recorded in the books of the PPA with an area of at least P3.93 million square meters worth P73.55 billion had not been supported with titles.

PPA had told CoA it is “dedicated to resolve the issues.”

CoA said PPA had assets worth P205.57 billion and liabilities worth P67.96 billion in 2022.

PPA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation under the Transportation department mandated to build, maintain and operate ports nationwide. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz