By Ben R. Rosario
Malacañang must now retire rolling coffins and smoke belchers in its fleet of service vehicles that have not only upped the cost of its maintenance budget but also been putting the lives of passengers in grave danger, the Commission on Audit said.
“Continuous repairs and maintenance of 24 motor vehicles due to frequent breakdowns resulted in the incurrence of additional cost to the agency,” the CoA said in its 2017 annual audit report for the Presidential Management Staff released recently.
The audit agency added: “Likewise, seven motor vehicles considered unserviceable and beyond repairs were not disposed of contrary with National Budget Circular No. 425.”
PMS is the primary State agency that manages the day-to-day affairs of the Office of the President. It also provides staff assistance and conducts researches for the management and strategic implementation of the programs, projects, and priorities of the President.
According to the CoA, the PMS owns 54 motor vehicles – three acquired under “lease-to-own” arrangement, seven in regional field units, ten as utility vehicles used by employees, 11 as shuttle vehicles of employees, 15 assigned to PMS officials, six unserviceable, and two under repair.
During a random inspection conducted last year by audit examiners, it was discovered that “a number of vehicles emitted blackish and foul-smelling smoke.”
Auditors said they also found out that many vehicles encounter common defects, especially old model units.
At least 24 motor vehicles are 10- to 21-years-old and are “fully depredicated.” Repairs have been made on the old vehicles at least 52 to 211 times, causing the PMS expenses ranging from P398,757.87 to P2,069,009.76 or 66.95 percent to 220.88 percent of the acquisition cost of the vehicles.
Seven others, including a 1998 Ford Ranger, appeared to be beyond repair.
“The reported defects of the vehicles may put the passengers’ life in danger which make the Agency responsible for allowing the employees/passengers to use vehicles on the presumption that these were roadworthy, safe to use and in good running condition,” CoA reported.
CoA said it is time for the PMS to purchase new vehicles. “Request capital outlay from the Department of Budget and Management for the acquisition of motor vehicles to replace vehicles which were already beyond economic repair and no longer roadworthy,” CoA told the PMS under acting head Ferdinand Cui Jr.