11 Coast Guard officers linked to P27M in anomalous purchases – COA

Rappler.com
The officers, including retired Rear Admiral Cecil Chen, allegedly violated the Government Procurement Reform Act

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) named 11 Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers implicated in irregularities concerning the procurement of P27.06 million in office supplies.

Those named in Annex C of the 2016 PCG audit report released last Friday, June 23, were the following:

  • Former PCG chief Rear Admiral Cecil Chen (retired)
  • Commodore Athelo Ybañez
  • Commodore Pablo Gonzales
  • Captain Teotimo Borja
  • Captain Juancho Marano
  • Captain Roben de Guzman
  • Captain Julius Caesar Victor Marvin Lim
  • Commander William Arquero
  • CDR Jude Thaddeus Besinga
  • CDR Wilfred Burgos
  • CDR Ferdinand Panganiban

The 11 were designated as Special Disbursing Officers (SDOs).

According to COA, they obtained cash advances ranging from P600,000 to P2 million. These funds were meant for buying “commonly used goods,” such as office supplies, paint, or other related items.

COA’s auditors, however, found the officers made purchases totaling P27,059,817.50 without public bidding.

The cash advances and purchases violated Republic Act No. 9184 – the Government Procurement Reform Act – as well as COA Circular 97-002, which limits the spending of cash advances to at most P15,000 for each transaction.

State auditors also found other evidence of fraudulent activity, noting that “liquidations totaling P12,279,924.37 were tainted with irregularities/anomalies such as (a) cash/sales invoices/official receipts were either disowned or claimed as fake by the supposed suppliers/dealers; and (b) the alleged suppliers’ establishments could not be located.”

The SDOs issued certifications to skirt the requirement for public bidding as well, saying the purchases were for emergencies. The items purchased, however, were not of that nature and ranged from typewriting paper, pens, and printer toners, as well as cleaning materials like scouring pads and toilet bowl cleaners.

COA added, “Considering that the bulk of purchases were made without the benefit of public bidding and were supported with fake or spurious receipts and/or the establishments cannot be located, the aggregate amount of P27,059,817.50 is considered irregular expenditure.”

Suppliers also wrote back to COA, saying the supposed receipts or sales invoices with their names on it were either fake, issued for a different transaction to a different customer, similar but had the incorrect serial numbers, or involved items unavailable at the supplier’s stores. 

The combined values of these particular transactions, 229 in all, were worth P9.075 million.

Additional verification showed 13 other establishments did not exist in the addresses provided in the liquidation documents. These made up 76 transactions with a total amount of P3.205 million. – Rappler.com