COA clueless on DBM contractuals bidding out projects
Auditor Joey Bernardino, audit team leader for DBM’s procurement service (PS), confirmed to the House appropriations committee that its practice of hiring job order personnel is illegal and violates the Government Procurement Act.

COA clueless on DBM contractuals bidding out projects

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) did not have any idea that an obscure office in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with “contractual” employees had bid out about P198 billion in government projects that encroached on the mandate of various agencies. 

Auditor Joey Bernardino, audit team leader for DBM’s procurement service (PS), confirmed to the House appropriations committee that its practice of hiring job order personnel is illegal and violates the Government Procurement Act. 

When asked by the panel headed by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., Bernardino said they were “clueless” on such practices under Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s watch, noting the DBM procurement services “refuses” to provide them with documents. 

Bernardino told lawmakers at Tuesday’s hearing, which Diokno again snubbed, that the COA has been requiring the DBM-PS to submit project monitoring reports on such activities since 2016.

He said the DBM-PS has yet to comply with the audit requirements.?“How can this bidding be audited if the DBM-PS does not submit documents to COA? Congress has no idea, and neither does the COA. What is the DBM-PS trying to hide in this bidding?” Andaya asked in Filipino.

Bernardino disclosed that the COA has recommended the filing of administrative sanctions against members of the DBM-PS’s bids and awards committee who refuse to submit project monitoring reports to the COA.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, a former Court of Appeals justice and member of Andaya’s panel, has expressed dissatisfaction over COA’s recommended administrative sanctions, saying such circumstances most definitely warrant a criminal indictment.  

Veloso asked the House appropriations committee to study the possibility of filing criminal charges against government personnel who were responsible for giving instructions on and conducting illegal bidding activities at the DBM-PS.

Andaya agreed to the proposal and tasked the House legal team to include such recommendation in the committee report to be released after the termination of the investigation.

“But to make matters clear, this is not the fault of the employees of DBM-PS… it was the fault of their bosses who gave them the order. They should name the brains behind this conspiracy. Whoever he is, he should be made liable under the law,” he said. 

Helicopters, too 

A total of 396 “contractual employees” of the DBM-PS served as heads and members of the bids and awards committee in unlawfully handling major infrastructure projects, as well as acquisition of helicopters. 

This was revealed earlier by Andaya, whose committee took over this week from the rules committee he previously headed in digging deeper into the alleged anomalies at the DBM. 

“Apparently, the DBM-PS is also an expert in helicopters. This office also bidded out a P745-million contract for STDC of light to medium weight, multi-purpose twin engine helicopter,” Andaya said. 

As testified by DBM executive director Bingle Gutierrez, the DBM-PS head said they are composed of 396 personnel complement – 279 contractuals (including herself) and 117 job order personnel – and that they bidded out P198 billion worth of projects “in 2018 alone.” 

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