MANILA - The Philippine Ports Authority on Wednesday defended the construction of a P10.835-million infinity pool and guest rooms at a training center in La Union, which state auditors flagged as "unnecessary" and resulting in "improper and wasteful" spending of public funds.
PPA general manager Jay Santiago said the infinity pool, which comes with a "recovery pool" and not a jacuzzi, was a "matter of design."
"Hindi po 'yan luxurious, hindi po 'yan extravagance," he told Teleradyo.
(That's not luxurious, that's not extravagance.)
In its 2020 annual audit report, the Commission on Audit said the government-owned and controlled corporation spent P10.835 million for the renovation and improvement of a training facility in San Fernando City, La Union.
The expenditures include P6.58 million for the infinity pool, P3.43 million for guest rooms, P400,432 for the pergola and P419,912 for the decorative rockwall.
COA noted that the PPA was mandated to develop and operate a rationalized national port system in support of trade and national development.
In the Teleradyo interview, Santiago clarified the PPA only spent about P800,000 for the infinity pool. The rest of the funds went for the construction of guest rooms and improvement of the facility.
He said the PPA also objected to the latest audit report of COA, adding it was not final.
"Yang sinasabing audit report po ng COA, of course po, kami po ay hindi sumasang-ayon diyan. May proseso po naman po 'yan. Susundin namin ang proseso para mapaliwanag ng maayos po 'yan," Santiago said.
(Of course, we don't agree with the audit report of COA. There is a process for that and we will follow it to explain the [expenses] clearly.)
Santiago said it is "limiting" to say the mandate of PPA was only to maintain a ports system.
He said it was part of PPA's mandate to build training facilities, which he said could be used for trainings and conferences.
"Ang ina-assure lang naman po namin, hindi nawaldas ang pera po ng bayan dito," Santiago said.
(We assure that public funds were not wasted here.)