COA insists: Decision to disallow GSIS purchase of P25-M avian flu vaccine is final
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has affirmed their decision disallowing the Government Service Insurance System’s (GSIS) purchase of P25.13 million avian flu vaccines, amid a petition for review filed by ex-GSIS officials.
In a decision dated August 8 and signed by chair Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Ronald Pondoc, COA insisted that the petition from GSIS officials Dr. Angel Concepcion, Concepcion Madarang, Consuelo Manansala, and Esperanza Fallorina went past the prescribed time.
“Based on the above jurisdictional facts, it is evident that petitioners had already exhausted the reglementary period of six months or 180 days prescribed under Section 48 6 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445 and Section 3, 7 Rule VII of the 2009 Revised Rules of Procedure of the COA (RRPC),” COA clarified.
“When petitioners filed their appeal before the Cluster Director (CD) on September 19, 2012, a period of 238 days had already elapsed since their receipt of the ND […] Thus, when they received the CD’s decision on September 19, 2012, they should have immediately filed their Petition for Review before this Commission, instead of waiting for 99 more days,” it added.
Aside from the late submission of the petition, COA also noted that the petitioners failed to explain and justify the delay.
“Other than invoking equity and substantial justice, petitioners failed to justify the belated filing of their pleadings, more so that an additional 99 days from receipt of the CD’s decision is too long a time for petitioners to wait before filing this petition for review,” COA explained.
The audit body said in its previous decision dated July 4 that GSIS’ move to purchase Oseltamivir capsules, supposedly for its members, was outside of the agency’s responsibilities — it was a task assigned to the Department of Health.
It was also deemed unnecessary, as then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not declare a national emergency when the medications were purchased in 2006.
Still, even without the factor of time, COA stressed that the arguments presented in the latest petition were merely a rehash of previous arguments that were already shot down.
“Nevertheless, the petition would still be denied on the merits […] These issues were already judiciously discussed and correctly passed upon in the assailed decision. There being no new matters to discuss, this Commission finds no reason to disturb the findings of the CD,” COA said.
“Having attained finality, the assailed decision is immutable and unalterable and may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law,” it added.
According to COA, former GSIS President and General Manager Winston Garcia arranged a deal with pharmaceutical company Unilab to buy the medicines, intended for its members should an avian flu outbreak is declared in the country.
A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was officially signed between GSIS and Unilab on March 30, 2016, while 476,300 Oseltamivir capsules were delivered from April to May 2006.
In the initial COA findings, then GSIS board members Garcia, Bernardino Abes, Jesse Andres, Daniel Gutierrez, Esperanza Ocampo, Reynaldo Palmiery, Raymundo Lapating, and Jesus Santos were found liable.
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