'Excessive': COA calls out NTC for purchasing 44 smartphones worth P2.1M

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 03:00 PM

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for its procurement of 44 smartphones amounting to P2.1 million, saying this "seemed excessive for their needs." 

In the 2019 audit report on the NTC made public recently, the auditors noted that the purchases made by NTC's Central office (CO) and its National Capital Region office in 2018 and 2019 were merely used for the measurement of the "quality of experience" of regular users of mobile broadband.

The report also noted that 10 personnel who did actual work for the project were not even issued with the mobile phones and had to borrow the units issued to other personnel not involved in the initiative. 

"This condition manifests that the number of mobile phones procured may be excessive for the intended purpose and that there may not be a necessity to procure new mobile phones in Calendar Year 2019," the audit team said.

The NTC admitted to the audit team that it was their branch directors and officers-in-charge, including their technical staff, who received the phones.

EXPENSIVE PHONES

The audit report also noted that the CO procured 22 phones at a unit price of P49,999 or a total of P1.099 million, while the NCR office procured 7 units at P46,500 each.

The audit report said that had the CO purchased the same phones with cheaper price tags obtained by the NCR office, the government could have saved P76,780.

"Apparently, the public bidding conducted by the CO did not attain the intended result of obtaining the most advantageous price for the government," the audit team said.

The CO management, however, reasoned that there was only one bidder for the project.

"Based on online market survey conducted, there are sellers offering lower prices, but these sellers or dealers have not participated or submitted their bids in the public bidding process," the NTC management told the audit team.

But the audit team insisted that remedial measures could have been done such as adjusting the approved budget for the contract since they already knew that there are cheaper phones available in the market.

"Management’s failure to take such actions therefore led it to enter into a contract that can be considered as disadvantageous to the government," the audit team said.

The NTC is primarily responsible for the regulation and quasijudicial
functions relative to the supervision, adjudication, and control of the country’s radio communications, telecommunications, and broadcast, including cable television facilities and services.