Wednesday, February 15, 2017

COA clears ERC chairman

By BusinessMirror -

The Commission on Audit (COA) recently brought to an end the controversies hounding the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), after it released its investigation report clearing the ERC head of allegations concerning a P300,000 audio-visual project (AVP).
In the report signed by State Auditor Vivencio C. Quiambao Jr. and Supervising Auditor Flovita Felipe, the COA debunked issues raised against ERC Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar.  The report junked insinuations that the selection of the supplier for the project was “rigged”, as alleged in an apparent suicide note of the late ERC Director Jose Francisco Villa Jr.
According to the COA report, the AVP “was not consummated” and that no payments were made in connection with the project.
Contrary to allegations made in supposed suicide notes, the COA did not report any “rigging” in the selection process for the supplier for the project.
It will be recalled that the COA conducted the audit investigation following the suicide of Villa in November last year.
Prior to his death, Villa headed the ERC Bids and Awards Committee, which supervised the procurement of office supplies and professional services. Villa’s suicide notes spurred controversies in the wake of an allegation in his notes that he was under pressure to approve a contract for a certain Jose Morelos for the production of the said AVP.
In its findings, the COA said “records would show that no payments were made to Mr. Morelos” in connection with the AVP. It also noted that a memorandum of agreement for the services of Morelos as ERC consultant was terminated by the ERC some two weeks after it was signed.
The amount set aside to cover Morelos’s fees for the period was not paid out and “will be reverted [to the ERC] as the transaction did not materialize,” the COA report said.
The COA report also confirmed earlier information released by the ERC that no contract was awarded for the AVP.
“No prospective bidders submitted their quotation for which it became a failure of bidding for the first posting in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System site,” the COA report said.
The second posting was also a failure because “it was alleged that the preparation of the second Terms of Reference failed to indicate the passing rate, which was a vital information to determine the most responsive quotation,” the COA report pointed out.
“There were no further actions taken by the ERC after the two failed biddings,” the COA attested in its report.
According to the COA report, the AVP was a project of the Public Information Division, which is under the Planning Information Service that Villa concurrently headed.
The project, initiated as early as 2010 by then-ERC Chairman Zenaida C. Ducut, was intended to educate the public on the mission and role of the ERC.
In a statement, Salazar said he thanked the COA for the completion and submission of its report following its investigation of “the issues raised by the late Director Jose Francisco Villa”.
“We are pleased to note that the report compiled by the COA following its investigation is consistent with the earlier information the ERC released concerning the audio-visual project in question. It is significant that the COA report has confirmed the fact that no contract has been awarded for the project in view of the successive failed biddings, and that no funds were expended in connection with it.”
“With the issues now clarified, the ERC is set to pursue the industry and institutional reforms we have initiated with added vigor and determination.”
“We went through a difficult period which put to the test our commitment both to the institution we serve and to reforms we are mandated to put in place. With the conclusion of the investigation by the COA, we can now put this period behind us and face the future with greater confidence in our ability to transform the vision of the ERC into reality.”

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