COA to DSWD-NCR: Pay supplier of PDAF-funded project

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development-National Capital Region (DSWD-NCR) Office to pay the supplier of a pork barrel-funded project in 2013.

COA gave the directive in a decision issued on November 20, in relation to emergency tents funded from the the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Manila 6th District Representative Rosenda Ann Ocampo in 2013.

COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Isabel Agito ruled to grant the claim filed by Fabian Maximillan Cabriga, general manager of Ideas Associated Solutions (IAS), for payment on the delivery of 54 sets of tents in December 2013.

The tents were ordered in April 2013, but production delays pushed back the completion of the delivery to December of that year.  Ocampo's office issued a certificate of acceptance and clearance on January 28, 2014, with an authorization for release of check payment.

A month before the delivery, however, or in November 2013, the Supreme Court declared the  PDAF unconstitutional and stopped the issuance of notices of cash allocations (NCAs) for all PDAF-funded projects.

The Department of Budget and Management, however, sent a letter to the DSWD notifying the agency that further releases of NCAs had been stopped, citing the SC ruling.

Following the DBM advisory, the DSWD central office advised all the heads of offices and bureaus to inform claimants for payment for PDAF-related projects to file their claims with the COA.

In its ruling on the text supplier’s claim, COA ruled that the supplier is entitled full compensation for fulfilling its end of the deal. It added that  Ocampo's office had distributed the tents to various barangays in her district for use of calamity-stricken families.

“The declaration of unconstitutionality of the PDAF…was not intended to evade the duty of the government to pay valid obligations. The government may still pay its obligations to its contractors whose contracts are PDAF-funded by requesting new appropriations,” the COA said.

While it ruled in favor of the supplier, COA said it has recommended that records of the transaction be forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman “for investigation and prosecution of persons liable,” if warranted.

COA said it found violations of rules under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, based on a review of the contracts.

It said that the required public bidding was not conducted, as public officials resorted to small value procurement by allegedly splitting the procurement requests, purchase orders, and contracts into smaller batches.

“The IAS was not responsible for any violation of the provisions of RA No. 9184. It was the DSWD-NCR and the Office of Rep. Ocampo that had adopted these mechanisms. Thus the right of the IAS to be paid should not be compromised,” COA said. – Rappler.com