COA affirms ruling on P846M disallowed transactions

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    THE Commission on Audit (COA) has affirmed its Oct. 1, 2016 ruling that former Department of Public Works and Highways–Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DPWH-ARMM) caretaker Razul Abpi should be held liable for disallowed transactions totaling P846.54 million.

    In a decision dated Jan. 29, 2020, the government auditing agency denied Abpi’s omnibus motion seeking reversal of the 2016 ruling, the recall of the notice of finality of decision dated Feb. 28, 2018, and his exclusion from the list of individuals held liable in the notices of disallowance (NDs).

    The COA’s Special Audit Office issued the NDs on Aug. 26, 2011 based on findings that the procurement of construction materials for supposed public works projects were only on paper and did not actually materialize.

    In his motion, Abpi claimed his appeal was denied on a technicality even if it was filed on time. He said the 2016 COA was not officially served to him since it was issued after he had already retired from government service.

    While Abpi claimed to have received the NDs on Dec. 15, 2011 rather than Dec. 6, 2011 that would have added nine extra days to his appeal period, the COA noted that respondent himself admitted in his appeal memorandum that the correct date was Dec. 6, 2011. This was also backed by several documents showing the same date of receipt.

    Likewise, contrary to Abpi’s contention that his appeal was not decided on the merits, the COA pointed out that the audit team found evidence that the transactions were not subjected to public bidding, some were not supported by invoices or official receipts, and unidentified persons “inspected and accepted” the delivered materials rendering the paperwork doubtful.

    More telling is the review of the project timetable: some projects were supposedly completed even before there was transfer of funds and there were still material deliveries beyond the supposed completion of the projects.

    “Contrary to movant’s contention that there were no definite findings of irregularity, there is overwhelming evidence of irregularity in the transactions. Clearly, the above findings of the Audit Team are sufficient to warrant a conclusion that the transactions were spurious and irregular,” the COA declared.

    The decision was signed by COA chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc.