COA absolves NAPOCOR of paying claims to power firm
MANILA, Philippines – The National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) does not have to pay a single centavo of the money claims filed against it by the Binga Hydroelectric Plant Incorporated (BHEPI) in 2005.
BHEPI filed the money claims worth P40,118,442.79 ($891,288.5010 million) and $5 million, based on a compromise agreement with NAPOCOR upheld by the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2010.
In a 6-page ruling released on June 8, the Commission on Audit (COA) affirmed COA Decision No. 2013-050 which declared the compromise deal between NAPOCOR and BHEPI “null and void” on the ground that the former is not authorized by law to enter into such an agreement.
COA Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Jose A. Fabia signed the ruling that denied BHEPI’s motion for reconsideration.
BHEPI, through counsel Lourdes Maita Cascolan-Andres, sought the enforcement of the money claim, citing a “final and executory” CA decision dated June 8, 2010, ordering compliance by the parties per terms of the compromise agreement.
The claims consisted of $5 million, representing “complete settlement of the unpaid claims of subcontractors/employees”; and P40,118,442.79 as “savings realized from the reduction of the claims of subcontractors and employees.”
But COA said that under Executive Order No. 292 or the Administrative Code of 1987, the power to enter into compromise claims is entrusted to the commission, the president, or to Congress.
“While NAPOCOR is a GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporation) with special charter, its powers (are) not absolute. NAPOCOR is not an autonomous entity, and it is duty bound to observe existing laws, rules, and regulations in the conduct of its affairs,” the COA said.
Mendoza and Fabia also said there was no way for COA to ascertain the validity of the claims of unnamed sub-contractors and employees and the supposed savings realized from the reduction of such unpaid claims in the absence of supporting documents such as vouchers, invoices, receipts, statement of accounts, and other related papers.
It pointed out that the “real nature” of BHEPI’s claim for supposed savings was its “50% commission on the waived portion of the original claim of its own employees.”
“This Commission finds such agreement a clear form of unjust enrichment at the expense of the subcontractors and the employees,” the state auditors said.
COA added that as BHEPI already successfully settled its claims at a reduced amount, this, in itself, already benefited BHEPI because it will no longer be required to pay a higher amount due to its employees.
“Thus, demanding payment from NAPOCOR to pay for the efforts it successfully negotiated is plain absurdity,” COA said. – Rappler.com