THE Commission on Audit has “affirmed with finality” its 2014 ruling and the 2013 notice of disallowance that held 11 former ranking officials of the PNP, seven non-uniformed personnel, and three supplier-contractors liable in a disallowed procurement contract for armored car spare parts worth P397.6 million.
Ending a five-year review, COA Chairman Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc denied the motion for reconsideration filed by former PNP chief General (ret.) Avelino I. Razon Jr., citing numerous violations of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The five-page resolution is dated December 26, 2019 but was released only last January 17.
Aside from Razon, also held liable under notice of disallowance No. 2012-10-025(07) were former Police B/Gen. Teodorico R. Lapuz IV, then acting director of the PNP Logistics Support Service (LSS); Police Col. Emanuel Ojeda, Bids and Awards Committee chairman; Police Col. Reuel Leverne Labrado, BAC vice chairman, BAC members executive master sergeant Victor Puddao, Police Maj. Annalee Forro, and Lt. Col. Edgar Paatan; Lt. Col. Josephine Dumanew, purchasing officer; Lt. Col. Victor Agarcio \, LSS Transportation and Maintenance Division chief; Lt. Col. Rainier Arias Espina, Management Division acting chief, Office of the Directorate for Comptrollership (ODC); and Lt. Col. Warlito Tubon, inspection officer.
Among the non-uniformed personnel (NUPs) implicated were Accounting chief Antonio Retrato, supply accountable officer Eulito Fuentes, and (ODC) property inspectors Patricia Enaje, Maria Teresa Narcise, Nancy Basallo, and Alex Barrameda.
Also held liable were supplier/contractors RJP International Construction and General Services (represented by Remedios Pensotes), Enviro-Aire, Inc (represented by Tyrone Ong), and Evans Spare Parts Motor Works Repair and Trading (represented by Evangeline Bais).
The contract was for the purchase of spare parts and accessories for 18 V-150 Light Armored Vehicles of the PNP in 2007, including delivery of 10 new engines and 10 new transmission systems as well the replacement/repair of fuel, cooling, suspension, exhaust, brake, hydraulic, weapons sighting, and electrical systems.
Auditors found that there was no proper advertisement of the Invitations to Bid after investigation revealed that newspaper “Alppa Times News” where the ad was supposedly published turned out to be non-existent.
The PNP officials also failed to put up the invitation to bid on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) and on the PNP website and did not conduct a pre-bid conference, a bid evaluation, or a post-qualification of Lowest Calculated Bidders.
A BAC Resolution awarding the contracts to winning bidder was also nowhere to be found.
An inspection of the V-150 armored vehicles showed the engines and transmission systems were not delivered but the contractors were still paid P53.9 million for “replacement service.”
The PNP was billed P149 million for “replacement of other parts and electrical systems” for the 18 V-150 but a technical evaluation found this was overpriced by at least P66.57 million.
There were various parts purchases that were not found on any operating manual of the armored vehicles moreover, the supposed “defective parts” that needed replacing were not presented during inspection as required by audit rules.
In his appeal, Razon said he was not properly served copies of the COA rulings and audit findings since he retired from service on September 27, 2008.
He also challenged the sufficiency of evidence cited in the notice of disallowance and the COA ruling.
Razon claimed the plan for the repair and refurbishment of the v-150 armored vehicles took shape before his time as chief PNP. He also argued that he was not a member of the PNP National Headquarters-BAC or the Logistics Support Service, hence he has no personal involvement in the bidding process.
He added that being head of the agency, he merely relied on the certifications made by his subordinate officers with regard to the regularity of the transaction and the supporting documents.
The COA was not persuaded.
“The PNP failed to offer evidence to rebut the findings of the SAT ([special audit team) as regards non-observance of the procurement process by the PNP. For violation of RA 9184 and its IRR, the procurement of spare parts and repair and maintenance of 18 units of LAV V-150 are irregular hence, properly disallowed,” the COA noted.
On Razon’s specific liability, the COA said that as head of the procuring entity (HOPE), he should have gone beyond just accepting the certifications of his subordinates particularly in light of his manifestation that the project was not conceived under his administration.
“The official function of General Razon Jr. and his participation in the disallowed transactions are not ministerial. His position carries with it a degree of responsibility which should be discharged faithfully to put in place the necessary controls to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations,” the COA said.