COA flags LGU over late COVID-19 supply delivery

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has admonished the provincial government of Davao de Oro for the delay in the delivery of medical supplies and other items intended for COVID response.

In a 2020 annual audit report on Davao de Oro, state auditors said the provincial government resorted to negotiated procurement instead of the standard procurement process through public bidding, to supposedly speed up the acquisition of medical supplies and relief items.

The items were intended for distribution to four public hospitals, an emergency operation center and municipalities severely affected by the pandemic.

“A review of the disbursement vouchers and supporting documents showed the items were delivered way past the dates requested by the end-user or the provincial government,” the COA report read.

It said a comparison of the dates indicated in the purchase requests and in the acceptance and inspection reports showed delivery delays of 15 to 141 days.

The report did not indicate the amount of funds involved in the deal. It only said the contract was for “COVID-related” emergency procurement being undertaken by the provincial government for its constituents.

The COA rejected the explanation of the bids and awards committee that the emergency procurement was necessary because time was of the essence and immediate action was necessary to prevent damage to or loss of life or property.

The audit body said despite the delay in the delivery, the suppliers were not sanctioned as it was the provincial government that failed to ensure that the documents were in order.

The COA said no dates of delivery and quotation by the supplier were indicated in the request for quotation.

The dates and terms of delivery were also not indicated in the purchase order.

“With the deficiencies in the documents, the suppliers were not compelled to deliver the goods within the desired time. The suppliers cannot be declared in default in this case,” the COA said.

In a reply, the provincial government said the absence of the dates of delivery in the documents was due to difficulty in communicating with prospective suppliers.

It said the pandemic, closure of establishments, shipping problems due to port congestion and quarantine protocols made it difficult for the provincial government to communicate with the suppliers.

“No supplier was willing to commit to deliver the goods based on our desired time and modality in view of the pandemic,” it said.

In a rejoinder, the COA cited a circular issued by the Government Procurement Policy Board, which prescribed the guidelines for emergency procurement as provided under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The law mandates local government units to exert efforts and expedite procurement through delegation of authority to negotiate and to award contracts.

The COA said the provincial government’s failure to observe the rules resulted in the delay of the procurement.

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