COA flags Philippine Coconut Authority for overpriced corn, other irregularities

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2018 05:07 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Audit has questioned the purchases of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) regional offices, saying these were overpriced by over a million. 

Regional offices purchased corn seeds which were supposedly overpriced by P1.073 million, government auditors said in its 2017 audit report on the PCA.

It said the purchase of Regions I-IV of 3,000 kilos of glutinous corn seeds and 1,428 kilos of yellow hybrid corn, with a total amount of P1.660 million was “disadvantageous to the government.”

The corn seeds were purchased to provide small coconut farming communities of intercropping materials to increase their income. 

An inquiry made by the COA from the Department of Agriculture revealed that the corn seeds it purchased were only P100 to P200 per kilo, 150 to 200% higher compared to the purchase made by PCA Regions I-IV at P250 to P560 per kilo.

Similar results were also revealed upon further inquiry with University of the Philippines Los Banos. 

The COA recommended that the PCA coordinate with government agencies and to buy directly from accredited seed growers of the Bureau of Plant Industry.

The PCA however justified the purchase price, citing transport costs.

“Since the RO procured less volume of hybrid yellow corn and glutinous white corn, 143 bags and 80 bags, respectively, than that of the DA RO No. IV-B which was more than 1,00 bags, the transport costs became most costly, which contributed to a much higher cost per kilogram of corn,” the COA said. 

Government auditors also saw lapses in the implementation of various projects such as the Accelerated Coconut Planting and Replanting Project and the Participatory Coconut Planting Project.

The contract for the supply and delivery of 377,000 coconut seedlings amounting to P9.987 million in the Caraga Administrative Region was awarded in 2015 but despite two extensions, the supplier has only delivered P185,075 or 49.09 percent of the total seedlings.

“The delay in the delivery of the seedlings adversely affected the attainment of the objective of the program which is to increase coconut seedling planted,” the COA said. 

PCA management meantime said a notice to terminate has been served to the contractor.

“Regional Office No. XIII explained that after a judicious, comprehensive review and assessment of the supplier’s compliance with its contractual obligations under 2015 Indigenous Peoples Outreach Program, Notice to Terminate has been served as a preliminary measure to commence the recommendation for blacklisting,” the COA said.

There was also doubtful payment of cash incentives of P498,062 and distribution of coconut seedlings worth P54,730.

In Eastern Visayas, 12 farmers claimed P29,700 cash incentive covering land area of 16.5 hectares but the actual area planted was only 11.33 hectares, with an excessive claim of P7,362.

“In view of the foregoing, the payments of incentives not only of doubtful validity, but might result in wastage of government funds,” the COA said.

The PCA said a team was already created to investigate the matter.

“Acting regional manager of RO No. VIII explained that they have created a task force to manage PCPP implementation to minimize lapses,” the COA said.