By John Carlo Cahinhinan
The Commission on Audit (COA) has called the attention of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos over the fabricated purchases and other irregularities made by the provincial government from 2016 to 2017.
In its 2017 annual audit report, state auditors flagged several “doubtful” invitation to bid (ITB) documents since its “reference numbers stated in the the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) printouts belong to other government agencies.”
“A clear manifestation of the fabrication of documents to support the disbursements/payments of the suppliers/contractors, thus affecting the legality, validity, and propriety of the disbursements/payment,” the COA noted.
The agency said there has been a “clear manifestation of the fabrication” of supporting papers for the disbursement and payment of suppliers and contractors based on the ITB reference numbers stated in PhilGEPS which is the primary source of data on government procurement.
In 2016, transactions for medical purchases from CN Medical Distribution totaling to Php 21.76 million were allegedly supported by fabricated copies of ITB.
Larger procurements backed by doubtful copies of ITB purchases from Dashma Computer System and Serfvices, Php 123,718; Shawin Konstruct Const and Construciton Supply, Php 51,950; BF Merren Pharmaceuticals, Php 1.5 million; St. Ruiz Agro Farm Supply, Php 356,256.
The COA noted that drugs and medicines purchases totaling P17,801,092.10 were made in staggered and piecemeal bases, thus violating provisions of Republic Act NO. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
“Drugs and medicines were procured at about the same time from the same suppliers in several transactions instead of being consolidated in a single procurement,” the report said.
The medicines which were procured in 2016 in nine small transactions of amounting from P1,945,240 to P1,999,900, were purchased from CN Medical Distributor also lack of competition in the biddings conducted according to COA.
In response, the provincial government said medicines were not purchase in bulk to avoid the expiration of slow moving items.