Reform CoA

The Commission on Audit (CoA) has its brightest hope of getting elected again into the Board of Auditors of the United Nations. Given the track record of excellence of the present leadership, it has more than ever the capability to institute reform and stop the irregularities that occurred under the previous CoA administration. The last time the Philippine audit body was elected into the exalted UN post was in 1983 and 1991.

Allowing the “mini-commission proper” to exercise the constitutional functions of the CoA proper had serious consequences.

One time, while the CoA commissioners were away, a chief of staff issued an order increasing the retirement benefits of the chairperson. This was implemented, but it caused a controversy. The auditor questioned it, and the chairperson had been required to refund.

An order dated 10 February 2016, with the signature of Atty. Gilbert G. Kintanar, Chief Executive Staff of the Office of Grace Pulido-Tan, stated that the earlier motion for reconsideration filed by Engr. William L. Tan of CoA Decision 2012-165, dated 15 October 2012, which was referred to the CoA Legal Services Sector for study and evaluation, was resolved with finality.

“The CoA En Banc has decided to reverse its earlier decision and granted the claim for payment of Engr. William L. Tan and henceforth ordered the payment of the said claim by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) the sum of P45,392,902.22, consisting of the retention of P19,980,167.19 and unpaid balance of contract price for the design and construction of pedestrian bridges in various parts of Metro Manila in the total amount of P18,423,486.11 and the 5 percent retention money withheld from progress payments amounting to P9,052,570.48, less the liquidated damages per CoA En Banc Decision in the amount of P2,063,321.56.”

“Therefore, the SUSPENSION ORDER and DISALLOWANCE are both ordered LIFTED WITH FINALITY for lack of merit.

“So ordered.”

This order was partly implemented when claimant William L. Tan was paid on 27 May 2016 the amount of P6,989,248.92 for the 5 percent retention fee deducted from his progress billings.

But it was assailed by the resident auditors of MMDA, claiming that it was fake. They disallowed the above payment. But they were the only ones who claimed that the order was fake. The counsel of the claimant asserted that it was genuine. All others also said so. The lawyer of the claimant formally requested CoA to have the assailed order investigated by the NBI, but CoA did not heed the request.

All signs and circumstances indicate that the assailed order emanated from CoA Central Office; encoded in CoA official stationery with postmarks duly dated and officially delivered and received with return envelopes to the chairman of MMDA; assistant general manager for finance and administration of MMDA; chief accountant of MMDA; head, budget division, MMDA; and head, budget division, MMDA; and William L. Tan

All these officials processed and approved the claim of Engr. William L. Tan for the 5 percent retention fees deducted from his progress billings.

CoA has established a conflicting pattern of decisions on the claims of contractor Engr. William L. Tan:

• On 29 January 2009, the CoA auditor disallowed the total payment of P161,903,009.85 to Engr. William L. Tan;
• On 18 June 2010, CoA director of National Government Sector Cluster B-Sally Mutia lifted the entire disallowance except for liquidated damages of P2,063,321.56;
• The lifting of disallowance was disapproved by CoA En Banc composed of Grace Pulido-Tan and Heidi Mendoza; but the disallowances were reduced to P37,255,307.46;
• On 27 May 2016, MMDA paid Engr. William L. Tan the amount of P6,989,248.92 for the 5 percent retention fees; and
• On 3 October 2016, CoA auditors, namely Audit Team Leader Brenda P. Degala and Supervising Auditor Atty. Emilio A. Asi, Jr. disallowed the payment of P6,989,248.92 for retention fees to Engr. William L. Tan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *