COA: 'Dire necessity' not an excuse for unauthorized cash perks
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) affirmed its previous decision stating that personnel of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Cagayan Valley must return P2.3 million in cash perks.
The cash perks – classified as food and grocery incentives – were given in 2012 without authorization from the Office of the President. The president at that time was Benigno Aquino III.
COA first issued notices of disallowance on April 10, 2014. It affirmed these notices in separate rulings issued December 12 and 21, 2018, and released last week.
According to the commission, it junked the NFA personnel's petition for review since their claim of "dire necessity" is invalid.
"Petitioners' claim that they were constrained to execute the Deeds of Undertaking due to dire economic necessity cannot hold water. Dire necessity cannot defeat an express provision of law prohibiting the grant of certain benefits. Succinctly put, dire necessity cannot legalize an illegally granted benefit," said COA.
The commission said the following are liable for the unauthorized cash perks:
- P1.6 million
- Rocky Valdez (provincial manager)
- Miguel Tecson (administrative officer)
- Maria Luisa Luluquisen (senior accounting specialist)
- Danilo Pastrana (regional manager II)
- Phoebe Co (budget officer)
- Marilou Arellano (regional accountant)
- NFA officials and employees who got the perks
COA added that the NFA personnel cannot claim they acted in good faith since they clearly "had full knowledge" that granting such perks was illegal.
COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo, Commissioner Jose Fabia, and Commissioner Roland Pondoc signed the December 2018 rulings. – Rappler.com