COA flags Ormoc City's rice "ayuda" program, 1,526 sacks still unaccounted

Published August 12, 2021, 12:09 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit has called the attention of the Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez on the 1,526 sacks of rice worth P3.337 million that could not be accounted for in the rice distribution program for households affected by the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19) last year.

Mayor Richard Gomez

COA also revealed in the 2020 Annual Audit Report (AAR) for Ormoc City that the city government has failed to implement a number of audit recommendations contained in the previous year’s AAR, including the delayed signing of the Notices of Award (NOA), contract agreements and notices to proceed (NTP) on some P296.85 million worth of infrastructure projects.

“There are still NOAs and NTPs which were signed way beyond the prescribed period,” the audit agency noted, referring to deadline set under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

Auditors said that because of the belated signal to proceed with the implementation of projects, project completion were likewise delayed.

Further, state auditors also flagged the non-implementation of the COA recommendation of the city government’s memorandum of agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the construction of Transitional Shelter in the city.

In its 2019 annual audit report, COA asked Ormoc City to return the P38.942 million it received from the DSWD for the project because of non-implementation. The audit agency also called for a re-valuation of the project Gomez’s office said it sent DSWD a notice for the termination of the MOA. However, COA said it did not.

State auditors flagged the city government’s rice distribution program for households affected by the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

To implement the program, the city government disbursed P271.795 million for the purchase of 125,800 sacks of rice that was recorded as Welfare Goods Expense and Other Maintenance and Operating Expenses accounts.

Of the total rice orders, the city government distributed 2,000 sacks, purchased from the National Food Authority, to neighboring municipalities of Albuera, Kanang, Merida, Isabel and Palompon. The donation was authorized in a resolution adopted by the Ormoc City legislative council.

State auditors discovered that the rice distributed to the neighboring municipalities “was not reflected in the local DRRM Fund Investment Plan for CY 2020, rather what was reflected therein was procurement for relief goods for distribution to the affected households in the City.” On the other hand, the city government purchased P269.29 million worth of rice from the Pito Enterprises, which the seller directly delivered to households in 110 barangay.

“Computation of the total sacks delivered by Pito Enterprises, based on the RIS (Requisition and Issue Slip) showed that 1,551 sacks were not transported to the barangays,” audit examiners said.

“The Audit Team also summarized all recipients of the sack of rice submitted and noted that only 122,274 sacks were distributed and duly acknowledged by the recipient households as evidenced by the DS (Distribution Sheets) , leaving a difference of 1,526 sacks with total cost of P3,336,850,” COA disclosed.

In view of the absence of any proof of distribution, auditors presumed that the 1,526 sacks of rice have not been distributed and “are still on hand”.

“No inventory for undistributed goods was prepared or submitted to the Audit Team,” disclosed COA, adding that the 1,526 sacks remain unaccounted as of December 31, 2020.

To address the controversy, COA asked Gomez, through the City Social Welfare Development Officer, to present document showing that the unaccounted sacks of rice have indeed been delivered and distributed to the beneficiaries.

During the exit conference, the city administrator explained that the supplier directly distributed the rice to the barangays because the city government does not have trucks capable of transporting the ordered rice.

Further, the CSWDO said she will coordinate with the city disaster risk reduction and management officer (CDRRMO) to account for the 1,526 “missing” sacks of rice.

However, auditors sid the CDRRMO denied taking possesion of the missing rice because their office has no space to accommodate the goods for storage.