ABS-CBN News - COA questions Comelec's P2 billion 'illegal disbursements'

3 August 2018

By Adrian Ayalin | ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has questioned the payments amounting to P2.580 billion made by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to 60 suppliers for goods and services despite the absence of Certificate of Availability of Funds (CAF).

In the 2017 audit report on the Comelec, government auditors said the poll body made illegal disbursements as the contracts violated the Government Accounting Manual and the Government Auditing Code, thus should be rendered null and void.

The report, however, did not specify the goods and services that were illegally procured.

“The absence of the required CAF in the contracts entered into by Comelec rendered the contracts null and void, as provided for in the above-cited regulations, thus resulting to illegal disbursements,” the COA said.

The COA said the chief accountant of Comelec should explain the absence of CAF in the contracts.

The Bids and Awards Committee of the Comelec should also justify why the disbursements should not be disallowed in audit.

Government auditors also questioned the “doubtful validity” of payments made to Joint Venture of 2GO Express, Inc. worth P119.28 million and to the Philippine Postal Corporation worth 10.947 million, both in 2016.

The payments made to the JV of 2GO Express, Inc. were for the deployment of Automated Election Systems Equipment and Allied Service, while the payment to Philpost was for the use of its warehouse.

The validity of the payments could not be established due to the non-submission of the approved disbursement vouchers and their original supporting documents.

The Comelec management told government auditors that a Memorandum of Agreement was already drafted for the use of the warehouse which started in 2012.

Payments made to Consolidated Paper Products, Inc. amounting to P1.96 million for 300,250 pieces of spiral notebooks used by the Technical Working Committee for the 2016 elections were also questionable.

The procurement was considered doubtful because it was not included in the Annual Procurement Plan of 2015 nor in the Supplemental Procurement Plan for 2016.

The COA has asked Comelec to properly plan the procurement of goods, as well as explain why the questioned procurement should not be disallowed.

The COA report was sent to current Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas who was appointed by President Duterte November last year.

Former Chairman Andres Bautista resigned in October amid allegations of unexplained wealth while Commissioner Christian Lim took over temporarily as Officer-In-Charge.