COA affirms disallowing NTA’s P.35 million coffee, chocolates

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
COA affirms disallowing NTAâs P.35 million coffee, chocolates
The photo of the Commission on Audit's office in Quezon CIty.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has upheld a 2014 notice of disallowance (ND) against the National Tobacco Administration’s purchase of P350,000 in coffee vendo machines, coffee beans and chocolates for the NTA’s employee health and wellness program.

In a Jan. 24 decision uploaded on the COA website on Tuesday, state auditors denied a joint petition for review filed by then NTA officials Edgardo Zaragoza, Cristina Lopez, Ma. Theresa Laundencia and Milagros Tiu in 2017.

The petitioners sought to nullify the ND dated Nov. 18, 2014 issued in connection with the NTA’s purchase of 14 coffee vendo machines, 200 kilos of coffee beans and 90 kilos of chocolate.

State auditors usually issue an ND after finding irregularities or violation of the rules in the subject transaction or the disbursement of funds.

The COA said the NTA officials filed the petition for review way beyond the six-month reglementary period and did not explain the delay.

According to state auditors, this means that the 2016 decision of its Corporate Government Sector-Cluster 5 affirming the validity of the ND has attained “finality” and is therefore “immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect.”

The COA added that even ruling on the merits, there is no cogent reason to set aside the ND.

A 1992 memorandum order of the Civil Service Commission, which the NTA officials cited as their basis for procuring the machines, is not applicable since MC No. 38 only covers “exercises and related physical fitness activities… (and) coffee vendo machines are not activities,” according to the COA.

The decision was signed by former COA chairperson Michael Aguinaldo, who ended his seven-year term on Feb. 2, and Commissioner Roland Pondoc.                  


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