Not easy to track PDAF projects, says project monitor

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 Sept) – Most projects funded and implemented in Region 12 through the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation of lawmakers are difficult to monitor due to the lack of available established tracking systems and available documents, an official of a regional project monitoring body said.

Arturo Valero, chair of the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12’s Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC), said they hardly monitor projects funded by the PDAF in the region as their documents are supposedly “not easily accessible.”

“Monitoring PDAF-funded projects is the most difficult thing to do because we’re not usually aware of them and they are also mostly made up of soft projects that are quite tough to track down,” Valero said in a briefing.

RPMC is a special committee of the RDC that is tasked to monitor development projects funded and implemented by the government and partner funding institutions.

The committee is composed of officials and representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Presidential Management Staff/Office of the President and three non-government organization/people’s organization representatives.

The regional directors of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) act as the RPMC’s chair and co-chair, respectively.

In the last three years, Valero said the RPMC was able to monitor some PDAF-funded projects in the area but were limited to infrastructure like road improvements and construction of various community facilities.

While PDAF projects are implemented by government agencies attached to the RDC, he said they don’t have any access to even a list of the PDAF initiatives.

He said the DBM has not been providing the council or the RPMC of copies of documents pertaining to the PDAF projects.

Valero, who is also the NEDA-12 regional director, acknowledged that they could not also compel any lawmaker or member of the House of Representatives from the area to provide them such documents.

“These are really major challenges for the monitoring committee,” he said.

Meantime, as to the PDAF projects covered by the RPMC-12’s monitoring activities, private sector representative Nestor Lumawig said they have not so far uncovered any irregularity or problem with them.

Lumawig said the RPMC-12 earlier created two monitoring teams to regularly check on the implementation of government-funded infrastructure projects within the region, including those under the PDAF.

His team was assigned to monitor projects in this city and in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani.

These include a public market expansion project funded by the PDAF of former South Cotabato second district representative and now governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, he said.

Lumawig said they also inspected projects like rural health facilities, road improvements and other community infrastructure funded by the PDAF allocations of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao and South Cotabato first district Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr.

“We did not find any problem with them so far in terms of overall accomplishment and compliance with government standards and regulations,” Lumawig said.