High-priced napkins bought from hardware? OWWA chief speaks up on COA report

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2021 03:32 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2021 03:56 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has spoken on the Commission on Audit report that flagged the agency for its purchase of sanitary napkins from a hardware.

An Aug. 10 report from tabloid Abante Tonite noted that the COA cited OWWA for buying hygiene kits, napkins, and thermal scanners from MRCJP Construction and Trading located at No. 80 M. Cornejo Street, Malibay, Barangay 161 Pasay City.

COA officials did not find a hardware store at the said address when they conducted an ocular inspection.

The napkins also cost COA P10 to P30 per piece. They are usually available in stores for P5 to P8.

“Still subject to liquidation po ang item na ito, the COA has given the concerned official time to clarify this matter,” administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in response to a tweet questioning the agency’s purchase of napkins.

Aside from this, the COA also noted that the agency bought thermal scanners at P2,950 per piece, more expensive than the P400 to P800 offered in online stores.

COA also flagged the agency’s purchase of cupcakes and bottled water worth around P300,000 from a caterer in Quezon City.

The state auditor has recommended that OWWA ask the concerned officials to clarify this matter with the proper authorities. 

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'DOUBTFUL CHARGES'

State auditors have noted “doubtful charges” made by OWWA amounting to P1.269 million for hygiene kits, bottled water and snacks, which were bought from a construction and trading store and not from reputable drugstores and supermarkets.

In its 2020 annual audit report, COA said OWWA's central office made transactions for the procurement of hygiene kits, sanitary napkins and thermal scanners amounting to P969,920 from a construction supply store in Malibay, Pasay City.

“The procured sanitary napkins (P10, P20, P30) per pad is very costly, the napkins can be bought in small sari-sari stores at P5.00 –P8.00 per pad only,” the auditors noted.

Bottled water and snack items such as Lemon Square, Fudgee Bar, Dowee Donut, and cupcakes with a total cost of P300,000 were procured from a caterer with business address in Tandang Sora, while the same items are available within the vicinity of Pasay City. 

The audit team recommended to the OWWA management to justify why the procurement transactions were awarded to the construction and trading company and to the caterer, as well as show proof on the reasonability of the prices of the procured items. 

The audit team also noted disbursements made by Regional Welfare Office 1 in the Project Care and Hatid-Sundo programs totaling P4.343 million made through cash advances instead of direct payment to suppliers.

“RWO I Management explained that the van rentals totaling P29,000.00 were paid through CA, giving foremost consideration to serving the public interest during the period of the ECQ, and henceforth, committed to comply with the recommendation,” the audit team noted.

A copy of the report was received by OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac on July 26, 2021.

The report can also be downloaded from the COA website. — With a report from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News