Monitoring Local Government Vehicle Use in the Philippines

Monitoring Local Government Vehicle Use in the Philippines

YEARS: 2006-2007
THEME: Local Governance

The Anti-Corruption and Transparency Project is an initiative of the Environmental Cooperation and Linkages Inc. (ECOLINK) undertaken through a $16,500 grant support from the Partnership for Transparency Fund/ADB/WF. The Project is implemented in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the City Government of Oroquieta and other concerned agencies.  The project hopes to prevent and/or curb corruption in the local government through a series of components that will reduce wastages of funds as a result of corrupt practices relevant to vehicle procurement, use and maintenance, increase citizens’ participation in such efforts, and strengthen relevant local mechanisms.

This evaluation report contains the assessment of outputs and impacts of key project activities as outlined in the Project Implementation Plan covering the period of December 1, 2006- July 31, 2007. Also included herein are the project’s lessons, recommendations and constraints within the period as well as the measures undertaken by ECOLINK to mitigate such constraints.   The activities reported herein are closely integrated with the Project Grant Agreement covering the whole project implementation period.

The issue of corruption in the procurement, use and maintenance of government vehicles by certain officials has gone to an extent where millions of pesos worth of public funds are wasted. For example, the Office of the Ombudsman has recently announced that it would file charges of corruption to 50 high-ranking government officials due to illegal use of government vehicles for private purposes. In addition to, the Office of the Governor of Misamis Oriental has just recently been reported to have spent at least 12 million pesos of public funds to illegal vehicle expenditures including diverting gasoline budgets into private uses. This means that on a nationwide scale, millions and even billions of pesos worth of public funds in the Local Government Units have been squandered, unchecked, concealed from public scrutiny.

Republic Act 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, defines strict rules on procurement of goods. The law requires, among others: 1) posting and advertising of procurement, 2) easy accessibility of documents related to procurement transactions, 3) presence of third party observer in all stages of procurement.

Yet, Local Government Units, including Oroquieta City, have visible gaps in the implementation of the procurement law. Specifically on the aspect of vehicle procurement, major requirements like the presence of third party observer in pre-procurement, pre-bidding, bid submission/ bid opening, bid qualification and bid awarding have not been followed. This practice makes the whole procurement process vulnerable to corruption.  The visible indicators of corruption include overpriced vehicles and dubious bid awards.

Since the enactment of the Local Government Code of the Republic of the Philippines (Republic Act 7160), local government units are given autonomous dynamisms in its operations including budgetary allocations and revenue generations. But simply because there are weak, if not totally absent, mechanisms in preventing corruption, worsened by the minimal avenue of citizen participation in curbing corruption, corruption in the local government level can be as worst as those which are entirely visible on the national level.

As the Anti-Corruption and Transparency initiative goes into full swing, many specific issues of corruption in the community have been dug out, discussed publicly and resolved through constructive reforms in existing policies and institutional structures. By and large, the ECOLINK has been able to achieve the objectives specified in the project framework.

Citizen participation in anti-corruption activities as well in as issues concerning the services of the local government and local offices of national line agencies has extensively increased through the project.  Local government expenditures in gasoline and lubricants have so far significantly reduced and corrupt practices in vehicle use have been effectively prevented.  The presence of both a conscious and vigilant citizenry and a reform-oriented government effectively combats the seemingly invincible culture of corruption.

But the challenge ahead is more serious than the initiative itself.  The ECOLINK and its partner institutions including the newly-established anti-corruption network – the Oroquieta City Coalition Against Corruption- must translate the initial gains of the project into a much wider and more sustainable scope encompassing a larger number of government agencies and cities and involving several more civil society organizations within a very limited list of potential funding resources.

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