State auditors have questioned officials of the Misamis Occidental province for failing to present necessary supporting documents for the purchase of land worth over P96.17 million.
Auditors of the Commission on Audit (COA) also flagged the release of P510,000 in professional fees to a private lawyer hired as legal consultant of the province.
Without securing prior written conformity of the Office of the Solicitor General and COA’s written concurrence, payments made to the legal consultant were considered “irregular.” “Further, the consultant’s responsibilities as stated in the contract do not partake the nature of exceptional circumstances, hence considering that such responsibilities can be performed by the Provincial Legal himself, the hiring of a private legal consultant is an unnecessary expense,” COA explained in the 2020 annual audit report for the province.
Misamis Occidental Governor Philip T. Tan has been informed by COA Regional Director Celso L. Vocal of the audit findings.
“Disbursements for the purchase of land amounting to P965,178,500 were not supported with the necessary supporting documents as required under Section 13.1 of COA Circular NO. 2012-001 dated July 12, 2014,” COA said.
The audit agency decried as “contravention” of Presidential Decree 1445 the failure of the provincial government to secure supporting documents covering the sale of the property.
Audit examiners said that due to absence of the supporting documents, “the propriety, validity and reasonableness of the purchase price paid by the province could not be ascertained.” Based on the report the Deed of Absolute Sale covering the transaction has not been executed.
The provincial governor agreed to COA’s recommendation that copies of the demanded documents be submitted by the provincial accountant.
“Demand from the vendors the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale for a valid sale and to effect conveyance and the transfer of title to the provincial government,” stressed COA.
In its audit of transactions for provincial projects related to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, COA noted that “reportorial requirements” have not been complied with.
As a result, the state audit agency said the provincial government “failed to ensure transparency and accountability” in the release of P49.28 million for emergency procurement of projects related to the COVID 19 crisis.