HOAX: COA 'quotes' on PNR toilet project anomaly

The blog post invents some quotes which were not in COA's observations on the questioned project

Rappler.com

4:40:39am August 24, 2018

4:40:39am August 24, 2018

Screenshot of an August 23 phnewspride.blogspot.com post claiminig "more than half" of the funds for the toilet improvement project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) was used in the 2016 national elections.

Screenshot of an August 23 phnewspride.blogspot.com post claiminig "more than half" of the funds for the toilet improvement project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) was used in the 2016 national elections.

Claim: The Commission on Audit (COA) has found “some documents" suggesting that part of the funds used for a toilet improvement project in the Philippine National Railways (PNR) under the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was used for the 2016 national elections.

The blog phnewspride.blogspot.com in their August 20 post ran the headline, “COA says more than half of P295M toilet money used in 2016 election campaign.”

The post has been shared on a Facebook page and a Facebook group. All of these accounted to a combined total of 84 interactions and 284,475 followers.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The blog post made up some quotes which were not in the COA audit reports.

The blog post was actually lifted from an August 2 GMA News report. It then inserted two paragraphs to say that:

COA said "53.17% of the project used only P139.36 million." The rest, amounting to P155.4 million, is "unaccountable as of press time and cannot be traced."

COA also said that there is a “possibility” that more than half of the project’s budget was used in the 2016 national elections as “some documents suggest” but they are supposedly "collecting more evidence."

COA did not have such observations about the Kayo ang Boss Ko (KBK) Toilet Facilities Improvement project in its audit reports on the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) – and later Department of Transportation (DOTr) – from 2014 to 2017.

The KBK Toilet Facilities project was meant to improve the toilet facilities in several agencies, including PNR stations.

COA stated in its 2016 audit report on DOTr that the still-uncompleted project, with a cost of P295.86 million, had an overall physical delivery rate of only 53.17% after 3 years of implementation.

An example of the uncompleted project, which went viral on social media, was a PNR restroom that had 3 toilet bowls without any partitions.

The contracts for the project were awarded to 17 contractors (with a total cost of P182.19 million) and 3 suppliers (with a total cost of P113.67 million), instead of procuring via straight contract basis. COA then noted that P74.85 million worth of actual deliveries to the regions "were not fully accounted for" due to unclear guidelines "for the proper internal control over the custody, accountability, and reporting requirements" for the construction materials.

Screenshot from COA's Audit Report for DOTr in 2016

Screenshot from COA's Audit Report for DOTr in 2016

In its 2017 audit report, COA reiterated its recommendations to DOTr on the project, like issuing necessary guidelines and conducting an independent investigation for lapses in the project.

Meanwhile, COA made similar observations about project delays and deficiencies in its 2014 and 2015 annual audit reports on DOTC, the predecessor of DOTr.

Rappler contacted COA for a response but was told by an official there to refer to their annual audit reports instead.

The blog phnewspride.blogspot.com has been responsible for posting false claims recently such as COA supposedly "flagging" some China trips made by Commission on Human Rights chair Chito Gascon in June, and a "former Liberal Party congressman" buying a posh mansion in Alabang using Typhoon Yolanda rehabilitation funds. — Miguel Imperial and Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.