CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Contrary to allegations of irregularities, a Commission on Audit (COA) 10 (Northern Mindanao) review said they found no evidence of overpricing in the construction of more than 500 classrooms in various public primary and secondary schools here.

Carlo Galenzoga, COA-10 chief technical audit specialist, said on Wednesday the approved budget for the contract and the contract cost were “both lower than the COA Evaluated Cost, hence, the same were found reasonable and in order.”

Galenzoga's findings were laid out in a report submitted to COA-10 state auditor Florita Kionisala, which also said that the classrooms complied with government standards.

From 2014 to 2019, the city government managed to build 548 classrooms, with 48 more under construction.

Education has been a priority program of Mayor Oscar Moreno since he was first elected into office in 2013.

In an interview on Wednesday, Moreno said corruption charges filed against him in connection with the construction of school buildings under his watch, have no basis.

The charges, filed by a certain Mike Pada at the Ombudsman, alleged that Moreno profited from the overpricing scheme involving the construction of the school buildings.

Moreno said the allegation was politically-motivated, and that the charges had "no effect on my performance -- never has, never does, and never will."

“It’s obvious that there is a political agenda behind this and was carried out to create an image of me as being besieged with so many cases. Who knows, maybe next week they will file another case,” he said.

Moreno said the projects in question, funded from the special education fund, are above board and had passed "stringent auditing standards."

What prompted the city government to focus on building more classrooms, he said, was the congestion in most public schools that had adversely affected educational standards.

“There were classroom shortages and as a result, our children are not learning enough,” he said, adding that pupils have more free time outside the school because classes were conducted in three shifts.

“Having a three-shift schedule is very scandalous, at the very least. The most affected are the children,” Moreno said.

Besides, he said, the Local School Board (LSB) -- a multi-sectoral body that crafts education-related policies -- approves the budget for these projects.
According to the Local Government Code, the LSB can authorize treasurers at the local government level “to disburse funds from the Special Education Fund pursuant to the budget prepared and in accordance with existing rules and regulations.” (PNA)