Defensor Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor

COA questions validity of pandemic procurements

January 23, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 835 views

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) has questioned the validity of P479-million worth of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic procurements, mostly food packs, made by the Quezon City government at the start of the health crisis in 2020.

In a report, the CoA said the city government allegedly violated the Procurement Law and its implementing regulations, and accounting rules in its purchases.

“Payments…were not supported with complete documentation…Thus the validity and regularity of the transactions cannot be ascertained,” the CoA said.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, who is running for mayor of the city, said the CoA report bolsters his recent expose’ on food pack purchases made by Mayor Joy Belmonte that allegedly lack or have insufficient documentation.

“Mayor Belmonte has not sufficiently explained the procurements, conveniently dismissing our accusation as politically motivated. Now even the CoA is questioning her pandemic-related purchases,” he said.

A concerned citizen has filed plunder complaint against the mayor with the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the procurements.

Defensor said the CoA report shows that among the “lacking documents/justification” to support the P479-million transactions were “details of the quantity (of food aid) received by each beneficiary,” procurement plan, and proof of online posting of notice of award, contract or purchase order.

“Likewise, the posting and reporting requirements…were not complied with,” the CoA said.

The P479 million was part of appropriations under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law approved by Congress.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the money to the Quezon City government on April 7, 2020.

Of the P479 million, the city government spent P385 million on food packs, P84.7 million on rice and plastic bags, and P9.4 million on noodles, according to the CoA report.

The CoA said the city also allegedly violated accounting rules by treating the fund release as part of its internal revenue allotment or share from national taxes, instead of as a subsidy from the national government. The city later rectified its error.