Commission on Audit

COA questions ports authority’s ‘high-end phones,’ unmarked vehicles

Lance Spencer Yu

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COA questions ports authority’s ‘high-end phones,’ unmarked vehicles
The Philippine Port Authority’s ‘excessive’ procurement of high-end gadgets and failure to mark government vehicles raise concerns over inflated project costs and unauthorized vehicle use

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) “continuously procured” over P18-million worth of office equipment, furniture, computers, computer software, and “high-end models of brands of electronic gadgets,” which may have inflated the contract cost of projects, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

Throughout 2021 and 2022, the PPA included desktop computers, laptops, printers, scanners, projectors, hard drives, cameras, speakers, drones, and other semi-expendable items as part of the contract of projects, driving up the costs. COA also flagged 19 contracts awarded last year that included “high-end model/brand of cellular phones and tablets.”

The ports authority included these as reimbursable items in dredging and infrastructure projects. Project contractors would then procure these items and turn them over to the PPA after the completion of the project. 

COA said that this practice “unnecessarily increased project cost and created an oversupply of Machinery and Equipment, Furniture and Fixtures, Computer Software, and Semi-Expendable Assets.”

The state auditor noted that including reimbursable items which are indirect costs to the project is considered “excessive and unnecessary,” prompting the state regulator to tell PPA to “discontinue immediately” the inclusion of such items in infrastructure projects and to instruct its contractors to exclude those reimbursable items from the contract cost of ongoing projects.

Unmarked vehicles

COA also said in the audit report that the PPA had at least 166 unregistered motor vehicles, worth a combined P219.847 million, that had no government plates or official markings. 

Government-owned motor vehicles are required to be registered under the name of the relevant agency. They must also bear the marking “For Official Use Only” on the side of the vehicle and use the red-lettered government license plates. The PPA failed to comply with this.

“[A]t least 166 motor vehicles do not bear government plates, [are] not registered under the name of Philippine Ports Authority and most of which are not properly marked with ‘For Official Use Only’ and the name ‘Philippine Ports Authority,’” COA wrote in its report.

The state auditor warned that having unmarked vehicles may result in the unauthorized use of the government vehicles. The PPA disclosed that there were instances when the unmarked vehicles were delayed and apprehended for violations of the number coding scheme, which marked government vehicles are supposed to be exempted from. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Thanks to Lance Spencer Yu for this article and thanks also to COA for discovering these malpractices in the Philippine Ports Authority, which are, in particular: “‘excessive’ procurement of high-end gadgets and failure to mark government vehicles.” I hope that writer Yu will have a follow-up article about who will be penalized and punished because of such malpractices. It is good news that COA recently has many discovered malpractices in Government, but these are NOT effective unless the responsible officials will be duly penalized and punished.

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.