Audit all public infrastructures

December 17, 2019

I EXTEND my condolences to families who lost loved ones in the recent earthquake in Davao. Davao is part of Mindanao where plenty of strong and deadly tremors  were recorded this year.  Mindanaoans are praying the jolts  would stop as aftershocks are still being felt in Davao as of this week.

But natural calamities such as earthquakes can’t be stopped.  They will happen every now and then especially in the Philippines which is prone to earth’s movement  because it is located in the so-called Ring of Fire.

As what many have been saying, what we can really do is to prepare for disasters.  I remember one sensible proposal at the House of Representatives  a couple of years  ago which deals with this matter.  It called for an organized and comprehensive audit on all government infrastructures to assess and ensure their structural integrity.

A lawmaker sought for the creation of two bodies – one to perform an initial inventory and audit of government buildings and other infrastructure and another to assess their structural integrity.

The first team will be composed of auditors from the Commission on Audit, a representative from the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a member of Congress, engineers from government agencies with infrastructure projects and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), a representative from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

The team’s task is to audit and evaluate all infrastructure contracts, bidding processes for each, and actual project implementation – with priority projects in the last 20 years. It will look for any irregularities that could signal graft and corruption and potential substandard  construction.

Any irregularity in whatever stage of the project should be deemed a “red flag” that could mean the construction may have been below standard and therefore the structural integrity may have been compromised.

After the first team has come up with its audit, the second team – composed of structural engineers and other construction experts – will then conduct an assessment of the structural integrity of the building or other infrastructures that have been flagged by the audit team.

The structural assessment team shall be composed of engineers from government agencies with infrastructure project and the private sector such as from PICE and the associations of mechanical and electrical engineers.

While the first team is doing the audit, the structural-assessment team shall also assess the structural integrity of the infrastructure older than 25 years.  “Both teams shall also give priority to infrastructure along or close to fault lines.”

Structures deemed as structurally unsound should immediately undergo retrofitting. Congress can make an emergency special appropriation if necessary.

I understand that the proposal dealt only with government structures. This was probably because the author was concerned people would be more helpless if government workers tasked to rescue victims are the first to die in a killer earthquake.

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