MANILA - Disbursements amounting to P605.82 million made by the Bureau of Fire Protection for COVID-19 response were branded by the Commission on Audit as “doubtful” purchases.
Government auditors noted in the 2020 audit report on the BFP that the purchases were doubtful due to lack of supporting documents, price ceiling mismatch and inconsistencies with existing regulations.
The report, released Wednesday, stressed that all financial transactions of any government agency must comply with Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines which states that all claims against government funds shall be supported with complete documentation.
The report detailed that a total of P88 million was spent by the BFP national office as well as its offices in the National Capital Region, Regions 3, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11, but no documents for audit were submitted.
Purchases include supplies and materials, meals, disinfectants, mobile phone loads, and fuel, as well hotel and facility rentals for quarantine purposes.
“Attendance sheets in the hotel are not original copies,” the report noted.
The audit team also found a total price difference of P5.02 million on items purchased, compared to the price ceilings set by the Department of Health.
Among the items noted were disposable protective clothing worth P5.5 million, against the price ceiling of P1.05 million.
The audit team also pointed out a total of P41 million meal allowances for BFP personnel assigned in NCR and Regions 3, 4-B, 5, 6 and 7 even though they were already given P4,500 subsistence allowance per month.
“Payment of said allowance would render the grant of meals to BFP personnel as double payment since they have the same nature and purpose,” the report said.
The BFP management for its part told the audit team that documents and reports were submitted but were not properly accomplished. It said the chief of the logistics support service was already ordered to submit a corrected report.
On the price differences, the BFP management said that the purchases were done in good faith and there was no luxury of time to look for suppliers with cheaper quotations.
The BFP management also said that the grant of meals was grounded on necessity for health purposes.
“This is also a way of BFP to show and express esprit de corp among BFP frontliners to keep them physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically fit and able to perform their daily task,” the BFP management told auditors.
A copy of the audit report, which can be downloaded from the COA website, has been received by BFP chief Director Jose Embang Jr.