By Ben Rosario
The Commission on Audit has ruled with finality that paying over half-a-million pesos for the conceptualization of the name and logo of a government agency is “unnecessary expenditure”.
In a decision released recently, the three-man COA Commission Proper ordered Teodoro M. Hernandez, chairman of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, to return P656,600 paid by TIEZA to LEN Plus Inc. for the design of logo and name in the state-run firm’s property in Clark, Pampanga.
The COA body headed by Chairman Michael Aguinaldo junked a petition for review Hernandez and other TIEZA executives issued for the reconsideration of the notice of disallowance issued by the state audit agency in 2013.
In the decision, the COA-CP scolded Hernandez for defaulting on the filing of his appeal, after being granted two extensions to submit the written petition.
Nevertheless, the COA-CP said that it will still dismiss the petition for review even if it considered its merits.
“Petitioner further failed to rebut the auditor’s finding of unnecessary expenditure,” the three-man panel said.
The audit body stressed that Hernandez has failed to show that the contract it awarded was in accordance with Section 50 of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act NO. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
Under Section 50, direct contracting or single source procurement, such as what TIEZA did, may only be allowed for procurement that can be obtained only from the proprietary source which has patents, trade secrets, and copyright.
In rejecting the petition for review, the COA CP noted that it should have been filed on August 30, 2013, but after a number of extensions, Hernandez was only able to submit his petition on October 8, 2013, or 17 days after the third motion for extension to file was filed by Hernandez.
“Petitioners were given ample time to file their appeal but failed to do so despite a 15-day extension given by this Commission,” the COA panel noted.
“These circumstances clearly show petitioners’ wanton and contumacious disregard of this Commission’s procedural rules,” the three-man body stated.
It stressed that even in its decision on Marohomsalic vs Cole, the Supreme Court explained that the relaxation of procedural rules in the interest of justice “was never intended to be a license for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity.”
“While litigation is not a game of technicalities, every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to ensure an orderly and speedy administration of justice,” COA said.
The COA panel ruled: “Wherefore, premises considered, the Petition for Review of Atty. Teodoro M. Hernandez, Chairman et al., Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority is hereby denied for being filed out of time and for lack of merit.”