COA: Irregularities in AFP purchases for Yolanda relief

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit found several irregularities in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) 2013 procurement of petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) worth P68.65 million ($1.5 million). 

State auditors who reviewed the P118.65 million ($2.5 million) Quick Response Fund (QRF) spotted the irregularities. The QRF is what the Office of Civil Defense transferred to the AFP to supposedly support the military’s rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

Yolanda made international headlines two years ago after claiming thousands of lives and leaving unimaginable destruction in several parts of the country, including Eastern Visayas.

According to state auditors, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by the OCD and the AFP in November 2013 transferred P50 million to the military’s fund from the OCD’s 2012 QRF and another P68,645,912 from its 2013 QRF.

The OCD then issued a check on December 6, 2013, which the AFP acknowledged by issuing an official receipt numbered 1589058 on January 9, 2014, two months since Yolanda made landfall. 

The AFP released 4 checks totalling P68,645,912 – the exact amount transferred to the AFP from the OCD’s 2013 response fund.

Records also show that Petron Corporation was paid P58,162,738 as “payment for POL products” and the balance was listed as “payment of withholding tax in favor of Petron Corp.”  

This was approved through Resolution No 34-2013 by the Government Procurement Policy Board, which authorizes the emergency procurement proceedings of all agencies involved in disaster response efforts.

The POL disbursement was supposedly the biggest, accounting for 98% of the total amount spent by the OCD for its Yolanda-related operations. (READ: COA: Yolanda fund, donations did not reach victims)

Purchase anomalies

However, state auditors discovered that the mode of procurement for the POL was through a repeat order, not through an emergency procurement.

The COA also observed that the contract of agreement for the said repeat order was approved on September 30, 2013, a month before the signing of the MOA between the OCD and the AFP. 

State auditors could not determine the actual dates of approval for 3 other supplemental contract agreements because they were left undated as well.

Several supporting documents for the original contract were not submitted, including paperwork involving details about general conditions, special conditions, schedule of requirements, technical specifications, notice of award, and notice to proceed.

“The regularity of the disbursement of P68,645,912 in the procurement of POL products out of the QRF could not be ascertained since the supporting documents were deficient and the mode of procurement was not in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement,” state auditors said.

With the findings, COA ordered the AFP to explain why it used the repeat order method of purchase. It also asked the AFP to produce the missing documents. 

“Until the end of the year, however, no action was taken on the requirements,” state auditors said.

The AFP was able to submit some of the documents to the COA during the exit conference on June 17 of this year. However, several are still missing, including copies of the notice of award, notice to proceed, and some delivery receipts. – Rappler.com