COA urges PCOO to file charges against officials over Asean P38.8-M questionable hosting deals

PCOO chief Martin Andanar
  • COA has flagged down PCOO’s P38.8-M Asean deals which it found anomalous
  • The state auditors recommended the filing of charges against the officials involved
  • PCOO said it is now probing 5 employees

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has urged the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to file raps against its officials found involved in anomalous deals in the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) 2017 Summit.

In its audit report that covered the P219.2 million Asean funds, COA flagged down P38.8-M it found to be questionable including the P27.5-M allotted for freebies and P7.3-M for vehicle rentals.

According to COA, the PCOO split the P14.6 million worth of delicacy bags, handmade soaps, medical kits, umbrellas, shirts and Asean jackets from four suppliers into 19 purchase orders (PO); the printing of Asean information materials worth P8.5-M into 12 POs; and the purchase of Wi-Fi internet access, worth P4.4-M into 7 POs.

The vehicle rental fees worth P7,264,450 for VIP passenger vans were also split into 8 POs but awarded only to a single supplier.

Clearly, the contracts were split into several POs to keep the amount within the purchase limits and with the intent of avoiding competitive biddings, COA said.

The PCOO team preparing for the hosting of ASEAN Summit: Image from Cordillera News Agency

Also, COA flagged down PCOO’s rental of IT equipment worth P4,039,140. The state auditors noted the PCOO could have just purchased the equipment, even from the most expensive supplier, for only P3,074,268; which would have saved the government some P900,000 and still have ownership of the equipment.

“We recommended that management file the appropriate charges against any erring officials, as prescribed under Section 65.1 of the Revised Implementing Rules of Republic Act 9184, for taking action that favored a particular supplier/s,” read the COA report

In a statement, the PCOO said it is now investigating the COA report on the anomalous deals and purchases, including the five employees who were allegedly involved.

“Rest assured we are going to investigate it. We will find out if indeed there were irregularities, if indeed there were violations. We will identify who these people are, and will make sure that this will not happen anymore,” said PCOO Undersecretary Marvin Gatpayat.