BFAR Region 8 ordered: Refund P7.8M illegal cash incentives

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    OFFICIALS and employees of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Regional Office No. 8 based in Tacloban City have failed to win a recall of notices of dDisallowance issued by the Commission on Audit for unauthorized cash perks totaling P7.78 million paid by the agency in 2010 and 2011.

    The COA Commission Proper, in a decision dated December 2, 2019 but released only last week, denied the petition for review filed by BFAR-RO8 represented by Regional Director Juan Albaladejo that sought lifting of the disallowance.

    BFAR-RO 8’s petition for review sought reversal of the December 23, 2015 decision of the COA National Government Sector that affirmed the disallowance against the excess payment of Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) Incentives.

    However, COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc said the appeal was filed beyond the six-month period allowed under the 2009 Rules of Procedure of COA.

    “There was no plausible explanation given for the delay in the filing of the appeal. Thus, this Commission finds no compelling reason to justify the relaxation of the rules regarding the filing of appeals,” the Commission said.

    Having thrown out BFAR-RO8’s appeal, the COA said the assailed decision has attained finality, meaning the disallowance, including the requirement to refund the disallowed amount, is now executory.

    The COA likewise clarified that had it given the appeal due course the outcome would still be the same since the payment of CNA Incentives to BFAR-RO8 personnel violated Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Budget Circular No. 2006-1.

    The said DBM Circular requires that the CNA be paid only at yearend, that the funds be sourced from agency savings from its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), and that the maximum cash incentive is only P25,000 per employee.

    Based on audit findings, the BFAR-RO8 released portions of the cash incentive in February, May, June, July and December 2010 and on December 20, 27, and 29 in 2011.