THE Commission on Audit (COA) has denied the appeal of officials of the PNP Directorate for Research and Development (PNP-DRD) who were among those held liable in the disallowance issued against the P71.766 million procurement of three units of Light Police Operational Helicopter in 2004.
In a four-page decision released only last week, the COA Commission Proper affirmed its previous finding that the purchase of the choppers was irregular because of violations of rules in the advertisement, bidding and negotiations processes.
It said the PNP-DRD officers were implicated because they signed the Weapons, Transportation and Communications Division (WTCD) report even if the said document failed to make a categorical pronouncement that the choppers were not brand new.
“Likewise, the appellants were held liable for stating that the R44 Raven II helicopter conformed to the Napolcom (National Police Commission) specifications despite the absence of a digital recorder which is required,” the COA pointed out.
The appeal was filed on April 2, 2014 by PNP-DRD Emilia Aliling, Erwin Paul Maranan, Dionisio Jimenez, Erwin Chavarria, Peter Ngabit Jr., Ruben Gungona, Maria Cecile Viloria, Janet Pante and Jorge Gabiana who all asked to excluded from liability.
They argued that it was the Air Unit of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), being the end user, which has all the technical knowledge and experience needed to determine compliance with technical specifications.
According to them, it was the failure of the PNP-SAF for not alerting those who were present that the choppers were reconditioned instead of brand new and that there was no digital recorder installed.
They added that the government will be “unjustly enriching itself” at their expense if they are made liable to pay for the contract price even if the aircraft are already being used by the SAF Air Unit.
The COA-CP was not convinced.
“Being members of the DRD Inspection Committee, appellants had the duty to conduct inspection of the LPOHs and determine compliance with the specifications. Their lack of technical knowledge on helicopters would not preclude them from fulfilling their duty …(as) a simple verification of the log reports of the LPOHs or a cursory check of the mileage of the units, would have shown whether said (helicopters) were brand new or not. Clearly, they were remiss in the performance of their duty,” the commission said.