COA flags Robredo’s OVP for hiring lawyer sans approval | Inquirer News

COA flags Robredo’s OVP for hiring lawyer without approval

/ 05:07 AM July 19, 2022
The office of the Commission on Audit. STORY: COA flags Robredo’s OVP for hiring lawyer without approval

Commission on Audit. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) may have an unmodified opinion of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) under Leni Robredo, but it still flagged the OVP for hiring a private lawyer, supposedly without adhering to COA rules.

According to the 2021 COA report,  the OVP engaged the services of a private lawyer as a legal consultant without the prior approval of the COA and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

ADVERTISEMENT

Without such approval, public funds used to pay the private lawyer may be disallowed or ordered returned, as stated in a circular that COA released in April 1986.

According to the 2021 COA report, the payments “are considered irregular and unnecessary expenditures” and “shall be the personal liability of the officials concerned.”

FEATURED STORIES

The COA audit team also found out that there was no valid reason for hiring a legal consultant necessary. It noted that the OVP created its own Legal Affairs Division in 2020 with two legal officers employed “as part of its institutional strengthening efforts.”

“It is believed that the contracted legal services can be handled by OVP’s legal officers. As such the hiring of a legal consultant is not justifiable,” the COA report said.

COA urged OVP to hold accountable those who approved the contract and the payments and have them refund the money paid to the private lawyer.

It also advised the current OVP to appoint someone to head the Legal Affairs Division.

In response, Robredo’s OVP said that it had asked the Office of the President (OP) for the creation of third-level positions for a “core group of policy advisers, including consultant.”  Bu the OP did not act on the request.

If the OP had acted on the request, an undersecretary post would have been created for the consultant.

“OVP has always considered the hiring of the consultant as primarily confidential, and policy determining, as opposed to a legal officer primarily and exclusively engaged in the exercise of profession as a lawyer. This is also precisely why despite having legal officers under the newly created LAD, OVP still sought to engage the services of the consultant,” the OVP told COA.

ADVERTISEMENT

Robredo’s office also admitted that the private lawyer in question worked beyond providing legal services, giving technical assistance to “regulatory and feasibility considerations of projects” that included some of the OVP’s flagship programs like the provision of medical assistance and the COVID-19 response initiatives.

Still, the COA lamented that OVP’s response did not answer the issue at hand — that the office did not secure approval from the COA and the OSG.

RELATED STORIES

Robredo leaves OVP with top COA ratings, fresh ‘Angat’ drive

OVP receives ‘unqualified opinion’ from COA for fourth straight year

Give OVP a bigger role – Robredo

atm
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Commission On Audit, Leni Robredo, Office of the Vice President
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.