COA urges charges vs PCOO execs over ASEAN expenses
The Commission on Audit asked PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar to submit a status report following its recommendation to file charges against any erring PCOO officials involved in allegedly anomalous transactions during the Philippine government's hosting of the ASEAN Summit in 2017.
PPD, File
COA urges charges vs PCOO execs over ASEAN expenses
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - July 20, 2018 - 12:29pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:58 p.m.) — The Commission on Audit has recommended the filing of charges against officials of the Presidential Communications Operations Office over allegedly anomalous disbursements for the country's hosting of the ASEAN Summit in 2017.

In its annual audit report for calendar year 2017, the COA found that out of the P219.24 million ASEAN fund, 17.7 percent or P38.8 million was found questionable.

It was found that the rental or lease of IT equipment for P4.04 million was more expensive than the selling price by P946,872.

"Verification of purchase orders and inspection of IT equipment such as laptops, desktops, camersa and camera lenses delivered on various dates in 2017 at the Property Section of PCOO disclosed that said IT equipment were leased/rented for a period of two to five months from various suppliers for a cost of P4,039,140.00," the COA report read.

An inquiry from various IT suppliers showed that even purchasing from the most expensive supplier would have cost a total of P3,074,258 and the agency could have retained ownership of the equipment.

Instead, the government opted to rent or lease the IT equipment used during the ASEAN Summit hosting last year.

The COA recommended that the management explain why a request for the realignment of funds was not submitted to the Department of Budget and Management and to submit documentation to show that the lease of IT equipment was more beneficial to the government rather than purchasing them.

The COA said the PCOO's decision was in contravention of Section 2 of Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines which enjoins all government agencies to safeguard public funds and resources “against loss or wastage through illegal or improper disposition, with a view to ensuring efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the operations of government.”

In a comment incorporated in the report, the PCOO explained that it had no choice but to lease the equipment as there was no budget allotted by Congress for the specific purpose of procuring IT equipment for the ASEAN events.

“Without realignment [of budget], the PCOO cannot purchase any equipment; thus, was compelled to lease equipment to address specific IT-related requirements for ASEAN events” the COA report read.

Van rentals, other services

The report also found that purchase orders of payments amounting to P27.5 million and 7.26 million for various goods/services and rental of passenger vans, respectively were split despite being purchased or leased on the same date or time.

According to the COA, purchase orders were awarded to suppliers without adherence to the provisions of RA 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“Resorting to splitting deprived the agency of the opportunity to take advantage of possible bulk discounts or lowest responsive offer if the procurements were done through public bidding,” the COA said.

In its comment, the PCOO informed the audit body that Presidential Communications Sectary Martin Andanar had already issued two memoranda dated March 15 and April 4, 2018 ordering an investigation on the procurements questioned in the COA report.

The PCOO also maintained that “no splitting of contracts happened” rather, each purchase request was “processed separately and independently” in accordance with RA 9184.

In its rejoinder, however, the COA said validation made by the audit team revealed that the purchase requests (PRs) and POs “were prepared on the same date or at about the same time, from same and/or different suppliers.”

As for the award of rental vans, the COA found that only one out of four suppliers was eligible for validation, as found in the verification of the abstract of canvass.

"It could be seen that the other three suppliers had quotations higher than the [approved budget for the contract], which quotations should have been rated as failed if not considered for evaluation and comparison," the report read.

The COA urged the PCOO to file the appropriate charges against any erring officials for violating RA 9184 "for taking particular action that favored a particular supplier/s."

The agency also recommended that the PCOO strengthen control measures to ensure all resources of the government will not go to waste through illegal disposition.

In a letter addressed to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, COA Officer-in-Charge Sofia Gemora requested a status report on actions taken on the commission's recommendations within 60 days of receipt. — with reports from Elizabeth Marcelo

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