MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) called on the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the criminal liability of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) over an allegedly anomalous transaction involving drivers’ licenses in 2013.
COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and commissioners Jose Fabia and Isabel Agito, in a ruling released on Friday, October 21, affirmed the 2013 findings that there was no legal basis in continuing the delivery of license cards by Amalgamated Motors Philippines Incorporated (AMPI) to the LTO.
Despite the contract expiring in 2006, the LTO, under the administration of the late Virginia Torres, still paid P500.904 million ($10.3 million) to AMPI in 2012 and P239.105 million ($4.8 million) during the first half of 2013.
Aside from AMPI and Torres, a notice of disallowance in 2013 held liable License Section chief Judith Campos, Finance and Management Division chief Irenea Nueva, Budget Section chief Ada Valdez, Accounting Section chief Asuncion Maningas, Administrative Division chief Maribel Salazar, and accountants Pernafrancia Dizon and Sheila Rodriguez.
The COA report identified absence of public bidding, lack of “valid and enforceable contract between the two parties, and irregularities due to non-observance of procurement rules.”
It added that the LTO failed to implement the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme which required AMPI to turn over technology and machineries to the government agency.
“In view of violations of the BOT agreement and the seeming disadvantageous nature of the contract and its implementation, this case shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, if warranted,” the COA said.
It stressed that AMPI should have already turned over “all buildings, facilities, equipment, furniture, and other paraphernalia to produce license cards” given that the contract between the LTO and AMPI goes way back to 1984.
But instead of purchasing and developing technology to save the government from paying higher prices to private contractors, LTO officials chose to extend contracts with AMPI.
In 2000, a supplemental agreement between the LTO and AMPI reiterated the requirement of technology and equipment transfer under a new BOT scheme.
The machineries to be turned over would enable all licensing offices to produce drivers’ licenses under 10 minutes.
“AMPI continued to supply and deliver to LTO drivers’ licenses… contrary to what was agreed under the BOT scheme,” the COA report stated. “No document can be found to show that LTO demanded for AMPI to comply with its obligation under the BOT scheme.” – Rappler.com