COA recommends Ombudsman probe on Baguilat vehicle purchase

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2023 08:28 PM

The Commission on Audit (COA) has recommended to the Office of the Ombudsman the investigation of former Ifugao governor Teddy Baguilat, Jr. and other provincial officials over the purchase of a vehicle in 2008.

In the decision of the COA dated May 30, 2022 but released recently, the notice of disallowance issued against Baguilat by the COA Cordillera Administrative Region was affirmed with modification.

The disallowance was reduced to an amount equivalent to the difference between the purchase price of P1.5 million and the replacement cost or value of the vehicle.

In his appeal, Baguilat said the disallowance of the entire amount would result to the unjust enrichment of the province.

“The technical services office is hereby directed to determine the replacement cost/value of the vehicle and submit a report thereon within 15 days from receipt of a copy of this decision,” the COA proper said in the decision signed by Chairperson Rizalina Justol and commissioners Roland Pondoc and Mario Lipana.

The commission stressed that the province dispensed with the required public bidding and directly contracted with the dealer without justifying the need through the conduct of a survey of the industry prior to the procurement process.

“There was also no justification provided to indicate that the vehicle may only be procured through direct contracting and that there are no suitable substitutes in the market for the same that may be obtained at more advantageous terms,” the COA said.

Other than Baguilat, also held liable in the notice of disallowance issued in 2008 were then executive assistant Charles Baguilat, provincial accountant Francis Biwit, and other members of the inspection team of the provincial government.

“Further, in view of the violations of law, rules and regulations , the case shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation and filing of appropriate charges, if warranted, against the persons liable for the transaction,” the COA proper said.

In his defense, Baguilat said he acted in utmost good faith when he approved the resolution of the Bids and Awards Committee recommending the resort to direct contracting and that no damage to the government was established.

He said that he should not be held liable but the commission was not convinced.

“Good faith does not apply where there are blatant disregard of laws, rules and regulations, as in this case,” the COA proper said.