Commission on Audit

COA upholds disallowance of DENR-Davao Region chopper rental in 2012

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COA upholds disallowance of DENR-Davao Region chopper rental in 2012

COA. The Commission on Audit in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, on October 2, 2018.


The Commission on Audit has directed its Prosecution and Litigation Office to forward the case records to the Office of the Ombudsman

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has affirmed the disallowance it issued in 2013 to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao Region officials over the alleged overpayment for a helicopter rental deal in 2012.

In its decision released on Thursday, April 11, the COA en banc denied the petition for review of DENR-Davao Region officials as there was no public bidding for the chopper lease, which amounted to P45,272.72 per hour.

COA said this is in violation of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Those held liable for the disallowance are former DENR regional executive director Jim  Sampulna, accounting section chief Judith Abrenica, and JN Agabon Enterprises.

The ruling was signed by COA chief Gamaliel Cordoba and commissioners Roland Café Pondoc and Mario Lipana. The commission directed the Prosecution and Litigation Office to forward the case records to the Office of Ombudsman for investigation and for possible filing of charges against the concerns officials and individuals.

In junking the petition, COA affirmed the disallowance it had issued in 2013 against the full payment of P498,000 to J.N. Gabon Enterprises, but lowered the amount to P362,182, representing the excess charge.

COA sustained the position of Sampulna and Abrenica that since the deal costs less than P500,000, it falls under the threshold for “small value procurement.” COA, however, said that under the rules, the agency is required to secure proposals from at least three independent suppliers.

In line with the DENR’s anti-logging campaign, Task Force Kalasangan, assigned in Mindanao, did an aerial survey of the boundaries of Davao Region and Caraga on June 23, 2012.

DENR-Davao Region paid P498,000 for its helicopter rental, equivalent to 11 hours of flying time but auditors found that the aerial survey lasted just three hours.

In appealing the disallowance,  Sampulna and Abrenica cited the Aircraft Operations Log (AOL) that showed that the rented helicopter was in the air for over five hours and not only three hours, which the audit team had based on the Post Flight Operations Log (PFOL).

The respondents argued that the waiting time should be included, which raises the rental hours to over nine hours.

The COA said, however, that a review of the records showed that the chopper arrived at Davao Airport at 8:25 am on the day of the aerial survey, contrary to the lease terms that the aircraft would be available for 11 hours starting 7 am.

COA also said that the petitioners did not submit the “subsequent pages of the AOL which should show the actual time of takeoff and possibly the return/landing time.”

COA said the justification to include the waiting time in the rental hours used was “unconvincing (for) being a self-serving statement” as if was not supported by evidence.

“Since the petitioners failed to provide convincing evidence to support their computation of the total number of hours to be used in determining the proper amount of payment, that calculation of the SA/ATL (supervising auditor/audit team leader) should be upheld,” the commission said. –

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