THE Department of Education (DepEd) need not pay the claim of the National Food Authority (NFA) of unpaid rice deliveries amounting to P92.8 million in 2006 to 2010.
This was the pronouncement of the Commission on Audit-Commission Proper which denied the petition of the NFA citing lack of documentary support to establish that the DepEd really has an obligation.
The COA-CP however did not bar the NFA from presenting additional evidence in support of its claim and refiling the petition against the DepEd at the proper time.
Based on the NFA claim, the rice supply deal with DepEd stemmed from a 2004 report about the rising hunger incidence in the country which prompted then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to implement the Food for School Program (FSP) for Grades 1 and 2 pupils in public schools found in the 20 poorest provinces of the Philippines. This was expanded in 2006 to include all grade levels of public primary schools as well as DepEd-supervised pre-school institutions.
Under the program, schoolchildren received one kilo of iron-fortified rice daily as long as they attend their classes.
The Schools Division Superintendents created the lists of FSP beneficiaries that were submitted directly to the NFA provincial offices with copies furnished to the DepEd regional offices and the health and Nutrition Center of the DepEd Central Office.
Between 2006 and 2010, the NFA said its total deliveries exceeded the stipulated quantity in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the FSP. It computed the excess at P118.97 million but the DepEd only validated P92.797 million.
The NFA requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for an appropriation to cover the P92.797 million but was told that the law requires that the COA must validate if the claim is proper.
In its claim filed with the commission, the NFA submitted documents showing deliveries totaling P4.744 billion but the COA noted that only five MOAs in the bulk of the documents are relevant.