DVDs, goods seized by OMB open to theft – COABy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Optical Media Board (OMB) needs to come up with a better way of handling, storing and accounting for the pirated DVDs, CDs and other goods it confiscates from vendors to prevent these from being stolen or pilfered.
This was the finding of the Commission of Audit (COA) which recently found out that some of the seized items were only being kept in the OMB’s parking lot.
“We noted… that despite its long years in its pursuit of an economy that is free from optical media piracy, OMB does not have, as yet, written policies or [a] systems manual relative to the confiscation, accounting, handling and disposal of confiscated goods [to serve as a] guide for the agency’s personnel and other accountable officers in their respective activities,” the COA said in its 2011 report.
The OMB has been operating for 17 years, starting out as the Videogram Regulatory Board. The government agency is tasked to regulate the manufacture, replication, importation and exportation of optical media. It is also at the forefront of the fight against optical media piracy.
According to COA, the lack of guidelines has resulted in inaccuracies in record-keeping as well as lapses in the agency’s handling and disposal of the seized items.
In response to the report, the OMB told the COA that its legal, administrative, and enforcement and investigation divisions had decided that its two custodians who are in charge of the turnover and the receipt of the seized items would be the source of all information on all its antipiracy operations.
COA cites deficiencies
In the 2011 report, the COA cited several examples of what it described as deficiencies in the OMB’s handling of confiscated DVDs and other items.
One was that the discs were being kept in the agency’s parking lot because there was no secure warehouse.
“This [is] an open [area], thus, the goods are exposed to the elements and [there is the] risk of possible loss through theft or pilferage,” it said.
It added that the goods were not disposed of at once as it noted that the procedure was sometimes done within five months or up to a year and a half.
As a result, the items were exposed to further deterioration while there was a greater possibility of these being stolen or pilfered. The sacks and boxes in which these were stored were also destroyed, leading to the inaccurate accounting of all the seized items.
The COA also said that the actual quantity of the items that were destroyed do not tally with the figure written down on the inventory and inspection report.
It further said that the items that were seized were not immediately appraised and that the OMB had failed to submit post-inspection reports promptly to the auditing agency.
As a result, COA recommended that the OMB come up with written measures and a manual on the procedures to be observed in handling the confiscated items.
It must also put in place control measures in the physical custody of the goods to prevent their loss or pilferage and see to it that the storage area is kept secure at all times. In addition, seized items must be disposed of promptly to preserve their value, it added.
Post inspection reports should likewise be submitted immediately to COA and the technical services office must appraise the confiscated items promptly. A physical count of the seized items must also be done each year, it said.