By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star
Posted at 01/28/2014 5:09 AM | Updated as of 01/28/2014 5:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines – At least P22.6 million in government funds were wasted on hand washing facilities that were barely used, according to state auditors.

In a report released last week, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the Department of Education (DepEd) spent P22,684,559.33 to build hand washing facilities in schools in Misamis Oriental, Navotas, Malabon and Biliran in 2012.

Records show that the construction of water and hand washing facilities was ordered in 2009 and 2011 in all schools for the prevention of Influenza A (H1N1) and other infectious diseases.

But inspections by COA representatives bared that the hand washing facilities were mostly not functional, not fully utilized, or could be unnecessary as management failed to consider the availability of water resources, among other factors.

In Misamis Oriental, each hand washing project in 25 schools cost around P45,000 to P50,000, but only four or 16 percent are functional. The remaining 84 percent were found useless because of lack of water supply, absence of electrical connection, destroyed faucets and pipes, destroyed hand washing counters and dirty facility and surroundings.

State auditors had the same observation for the facilities in Navotas, Malabon and Biliran, with lack of water supply as the primary problem.

The COA report noted that unnecessary expenditures are those “which could not pass the test of prudence or diligence of a good father of a family, thereby denoting non-responsiveness to the exigencies of the service or the incurrence of expenditure not dictated by the demand of good government.”

“It seemed that concerned officials did not consider the availability of water resources in the targeted schools and sanitation of the facilities pursuant to the above-cited DepEd order to ensure the sustainability of these facilities,” state auditors said.

“Had concerned officials exercised due diligence, schools with enough toilets and with water supply problem should not have been selected as beneficiaries and the funds could have been allocated to other projects,” the audit team added.

The COA report said DepEd should require the school heads and teachers to rehabilitate, clean and maintain the hand washing facilities of their schools.

State auditors said the water supply problem should also be addressed so that the facilities could be used.

The 2012 COA report also questioned DepEd for the school furniture delivered to various schools in Davao del Sur worth over P5 million found to be of poor quality, defective and with inconsistent delivery date.

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