COA scraps orders for Echiverri to return P1.06B in Caloocan funds
MANILA — The Commission on Audit has lifted two orders for former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri to return a total of P1.06 billion, which were previously deemed irregularly spent.
In two separate decisions dated June 15, the COA proper granted the petitions by Echiverri and other city officials to set aside the notices of disallowance issued on Oct. 25 and Nov. 12, 2013.
The lifted NDs, which were issued by the resident audit team, had directed the return of P979,057,182.64 and P81,911,268 for various projects which the mayor entered into without prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council)
COA said the irregularities were already cured because the city council subsequently passed the necessary resolutions ratifying and validating the already implemented projects.
The decision noted that the ratification was “equivalent to a previous authorization and relates back to the time when the act ratified was done.”
It also pointed out that the city has been enjoying the benefits of the infrastructure projects which have been implemented.
“In the spirit of justice and equity and in view also of the considerably large amount involved as well as the tedious legal process obtained prior to its implementation and in consideration of the benefits derived… and the subject contracts, having no other notable defects, this Commission holds that a disallowance for the entire disbursement is not warranted,” read one of the decisions.
The P979.06-million disallowance arose from the projects which were only indicated as lump-sum appropriations in the Supplemental Budget No. 1 for fiscal year 2010. Such lump sums were earmarked for various sports centers, public markets, barangay halls, a city pound building, commercial buildings, and other structures.
The projects were supposedly not submitted to the council “through inadvertence.” Thus, the SP passed Resolution No. 1980, series of 2012, in a March 8, 2012 special session in order to include the list of the specific projects funded by the 2010 supplemental budget.
Meanwhile, the P81.91-million disallowance pertained to the projects implemented under the 20-percent development fund sourced from the city’s internal revenue allotment for the year 2011.
This included the construction or renovation of various covered courts and multi-purposes halls, a school building, the installation of street lights and waterworks systems, and the purchase of garbage bins.
Like in the earlier case, the SP also ratified the projects through Resolution No. 1985, series of 2012, adopted on May 14, 2012.
Held liable under the NDs were Echiverri, former city engineer Rolando Eduria, former city accountant Edna Centeno, city treasurer Evelina Garma, and former city budget officer Jesusa Garcia.
Section 22(c) of the Local Government Code states that “no contract may be entered into by the local chief executive in behalf of the local government unit without prior authorization by the Sanggunian concerned.” SFM
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.