COA to Guiguinto ex-officials: Pay back P747k spent on iPads

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered former Bulacan municipal mayors to pay back the cost of 37 Apple iPads found to have been purchased without going through public bidding in 2012. 

The commission recently denied the motions filed by former Guiguinto municipal accountant Ma. Teresa Jose and officer-in-charge treasurer Flordeliza Cruz which sought to lift the notice of disallowance released in June 2013.  

State auditors found that the local government approved the procurement of 37 iPad 2 units amounting to P747,781.81 for municipal scholars. But it was discovered that 10 of the units were given to municipal employees. 

The purchase of high-end gadgets, COA said, are “unnecessary expenditures” especially in the context of the local government going beyond its 2012 budget by P50.85 million.

Cruz and Guiguinto, however, said they were non-lawyers who are not knowledgeable about laws, particularly those relating to procurement. COA, however, said that Jose and Cruz were in a position to prevent the transaction found to be in violation of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act. 

“Movants cannot evade liability for the disallowance since their certifications paved the way for the incurrence of the unnecessary expenditure,” the commission said. 

“Without their respective certifications, the disbursement would not have been approved, and the fund would not have been released,” it added. 

COA, in the 4-page decision, also affirmed the September 2017 ruling which counted among those liable, former mayor Isagani Pascual, administrator Maria Nieves Roque, and the Bids and Awards Committee. –