Mark Lapid defends TIEZA funding of P4.1-M school projects
Mark Lapid, along with his wife Tanya and father Senator Lito Lapid, files his certificate of candidacy for senator at the Comelec office in Manila on Wednesday, October 14. (MNS photo)
MANILA (Mabuhay) – Former Pampanga governor Mark Lapid on Monday defended the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority’s (TIEZA) decision to spend P4.1 million for the construction of two public school facilities which the Commission on Audit (COA) said were outside its mandate.
Lapid, who served as TIEZA chief operating officer until he filed his certificate of candidacy for senator in October 2015, said the construction of a Tourism Information Center in Rizal High School in Pasig City and a Performing Arts Facilities at the San Agustin Elementary School in Parañaque City had the TIEZA board’s approval and passed the criteria for funding such projects.
While admitting that his agency had received funding requests for infrastructure projects from local government units (LGUs), Lapid said TIEZA also conducted due diligence to ensure the approved initiatives were well within its mandate.
“Noong ginawa namin ‘yan, siyempre, we turn[ed] it over to the LGU. Sa kanila na yung paglalaman doon. Sa kanila na ‘yung manpower kasi wala na kaming capability doon. So ‘yung amin ay pagbibigay ng mga imprastruktura na ito na ni-request nila. I think they will not request for it if they don’t think they need it at kailangan sa isang lugar,” Lapid said.
He said all requests for funding infrastructure projects pass through the TIEZA board and have to be approved by the body before the necessary appropriation is released.
In its 2014 report, the COA said the structure in Pasig City turned out to be a school gazebo while the project in Parañaque City was only a small in-school facility.
State auditors said the Tourism Information Center was requested by Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo while the Parañaque City facility was endorsed by former Rep. Roilo Golez to then-Tourism Secretary and TIEZA Board chairperson Alberto Lim in 2010.
The COA said TIEZA should not have funded the projects because they were not related to tourism.
Although Lapid said getting funding requests for projects from local officials is unavoidable, he said he does not think approving them is proof of patronage politics.
“Hindi rin natin maiiwasan na ‘yung mga lokal na nanunungkulan ang nagre-request nito. Unang una, sila ang nakakaalam sa mga pangangailangan sa lugar nila. Tayo ay tumutugon, tinitingnan natin at sinisigurado natin na ‘yung kanilang mga requests ay pumapasa sa ating guidelines at standards when it comes to tourism. I don’t think we’re supporting patronage politics here,” he said, adding that TIEZA does not look at political affiliations in approving projects.(MNS)