State auditors flag Catanduanes’ abaca rehabilitation project

Bobby Labalan

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State auditors flag Catanduanes’ abaca rehabilitation project

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


State auditors say the provincial government contracted a supplier to deliver over 1.3 million abaca suckers, but there was no actual delivery, contrary to inspection and acceptance certifications

LEGAZPI, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has raised the red flag over an abaca revival project of the provincial government of Catanduanes due to alleged irregularities in the purchase of abaca suckers, rendering the “payment illegal and unlawful.”

The project, focused on rehabilitating typhoon-damaged abaca farms in the province, was funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) with a cost of P69.9 million. It involved procuring and distributing abaca planting materials, digging bars, and backpack sprays to qualified farmer beneficiaries.

Based on the 2023 audit report, the provincial government contracted with an unnamed supplier for the purchase and delivery of 1,377,700 abaca suckers, with a contract cost of P41.26 million, within 120 calendar days from the contract date.

However, the audit agency discovered that there was no actual delivery of 1,377,700 abaca suckers, contrary to certifications in Inspection and Acceptance Report Nos. 09-715 and 10-947.

The COA said the abaca suckers were sourced from abaca farmer-beneficiaries themselves, not through the capacity of the supplier. 

Documents showed that after signing the contract, the provincial government and the supplier agreed on a term of reference (TOR) that modified the contract, requiring the supplier to source the suckers from local farmers.

The COA noted that had this provision been clear to all potential suppliers from the beginning, it could have altered the procurement outcome, stressing that introducing such a provision in the TOR was illegal.

State auditors said verification with 2,234 farmer-beneficiaries showed that they did not receive abaca suckers from the provincial government or the supplier but were paid P1,700 in cash each for 100 pieces of abaca suckers they produced.

The COA said the provincial government could have saved P17.8 million by directly engaging farmer-beneficiaries instead of the supplier. 

It recommended blacklisting the supplier and directed the provincial government to conduct an impartial investigation and institute appropriate sanctions against responsible personnel.

As of posting time, the provincial government has yet to respond to requests for comment sent to the office of Governor Joseph Cua.

Based on Republic Act No. 11700, Catanduanes was declared the “abaca capital of the Philippines,” recognizing its role as the country’s top producer of the native fiber. 

Abaca would be the focus of the 2024 Regional Science and Technology Week celebration on the third of May, dubbed “AbacaNobasyon,” highlighting various aspects of the abaca industry in the province. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I appreciate the effort of the Commission on Audit in uncovering alleged irregularities in the purchase of abaca suckers for a revival project by the provincial government of Catanduanes, worth P41.26 million. The Commission has identified the payment as illegal and unlawful. If it is later proven to be a corrupt practice, it would be unfortunate to see a certain province become known as the “capital of ‘corrupted’ abaca in the Philippines.”

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