COA uncovers P800-M mess in Maguindanao transactions | Inquirer News

COA uncovers P800-M mess in Maguindanao transactions

/ 01:55 AM August 31, 2011

The Commission on Audit has uncovered more than P800 million worth of questionable transactions during the reign of former governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in Maguindanao province.

A special COA study on Maguindanao, covering the period January 2008 to September 2009, showed that P865.887 million worth of transactions could be fictitious since they were supported by spurious documents, or the supposed suppliers denied participating in them.

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The COA also raised its eyebrows on the P28.241 million worth of fuel purchases, saying their validity is questionable for a host of reasons.

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It also noted that P805 million worth of procurements were not subjected to public bidding as required, and big payments were made in cash instead of checks.

During the audit period, Ampatuan was still the governor of Maguindanao. He and other members of his clan were later implicated in the massacre of 57 people, which include members of a rival political clan and media practitioners. They are now under detention.

The COA findings on Maguindanao bore similarities to the earlier COA study on ARMM, which covered part of the term of former governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Andal’s son.

In the ARMM report, the COA said the funds received by the Office of the Governor for its operations were not properly used, and that transactions amounting to P1.003 billion were supported by spurious documents.

Suspicious documents

In the Maguindanao report, the COA said 1,441 transactions from 31 suppliers amounting to P810 million were also fictitious.

The transactions, COA said, were paid out of cash advances to 30 illegitimate suppliers who have no business permits and could not be located at their given addresses. The other supplier, on the other hand, denied dealing with the provincial government.

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Official receipts and cash invoices were issued consecutively, indicating that the provincial government was their sole client, and some of the receipts were issued twice, among other findings.

The transactions were also not supported by documents that establish the need for the items purchased.

The COA also said that P28 million worth of fuel bought from Cotabato Shell Service Station and Shariff Aguak Petron Station was dubious, since these were not supported by receipts or invoices.

Fixed expenses

The owner of the Shell station denied receiving P5 million worth of payments, COA noted.

As for the fixed amount of fuel bought from the Petron station, COA said it was unlikely for each office to have a fixed monthly fuel requirement since gas prices fluctuate, and the needs of each office depends on the projects undertaken.

COA also said that P27.346 million worth of miscellaneous payments were also doubtful because the invoices supporting them were spurious.

It noted that part of this amount went to reimburse employees who supposedly advanced payment for goods and services. The payments ranged from P813 to P816,700 for each claim.

COA doubted whether the employees had the capability to pay such expenses in advance.

According to COA, the Maguindanao government paid for many transactions in cash, even if the general rule was that payments must be made in checks.

Cash advances were granted in amounts as high as P296 million in a day, the COA said. Some of these were also granted even without a specific purpose.

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TAGS: COA study, Commission On Audit, former governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., Maguindanao, P865.887-million Maguindanao transactions, questionable transactions
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