The government should boost COA’s capability

According to the United States Coast Guard, Aids to Navitation (or ATONs), like the red-and-green lighted buoys in Cabugao Bay that now mark the passage in and out of Virac port, are used by mariners to determine position or a safe course.
These aids also assist mariners in making a safe landfall, mark isolated dangers, enable pilots to follow channels, and provide a continuous chain of charted marks for precise piloting in coastal waters, it said.
To many of us landlubbers who are unfamiliar with how ships navigate the sea, which unlike roads and highways do not have traffic signs, the so-called Lateral System uses the “Red Right Returning” system.
This means that on a ship’s return from sea, the red, even-numbered marks are on the starboard (right) side of the channel and the green odd-numbered marks are on the port (left) side of the channel.
“Numbers on the marks ascend when traveling from sea to harbor–if you don’t have a compass and become disoriented on the water, you will always know you are heading upstream if the buoy numbers get larger as you travel,” the USCG says in its website.
Conversely, port side numbered aids are green in color, odd numbered and may be lighted. Port side marks are located on the left side of the waterway as you travel upstream, and the buoy numbers will increase as you head upstream.
As viewed from shore, the Virac port’s red starboard buoys have a cylinder topped with a cone, pointed end up. On the other hand, the green port-side buoys have a can or cylinder.
The same website also says that, in the USA, a buoy costs about $50,000, and typically costs another $5,000 annually for maintenance, deployment, and retrieval.
The Tribune tried to find out on its own, with the help of some friends in the States, to find out exactly a Sealite SL-B2200 solar-powered lighted buoy assembly costs.
But the inquiry ran into a dead-end: the company’s distributor wanted to know where the buoy would be deployed. Apparently, the manufacturer only sells their products to those qualified to install them.
Which brings us to the Duterte administration’s demand that the Senate stop investigating on-going projects of government agencies.
Malacanang must be really bothered by the probe into the controversial P8.7-billion Pharmally anomaly that it now wishes that the legislature close its eyes to possible shenanigans occurring in the executive department.
The president also urged department heads to ignore findings of the Commission on Audit, a constitutional body tasked with ensuring that transactions of the government, from the barangays up to Malacanang, are above-board.
To many in the public, including Duterte supporters, this administration’s attempt to muzzle Senate probers and a constitutionally-mandated audit belies the president’s frequent “galit ako sa corruption” statements.
What this nation needs is for the administration to increase funding for COA so it can hire more auditors, at appropriate salaries and benefits so that they would not be tempted to connive with robbers in barong.
Early in his term, Duterte increased the pay of the military and the police supposedly so its personnel would no longer engage in “kotong” but conspiracy theorists believe the move was merely to secure the loyalty of the armed services.
To push back against Malacanang, perhaps Congress should pass measures increasing COA’s funding and bringing back pre-audit of all government transactions.
With all local government units set to receive a 37-percent increase in their Internal Revenue Allocations (IRA) in 2022, a pre-audit requirement would probably save the public from such graft-ridden procurements such as Virac LGU’s motorized banca that cost P71,000 each and the PPA’s eight buoys bought for at P8 million each.

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