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SC affirms notice of disallowance against 2005 SEAG Bacolod officials

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THE Supreme Court (SC) has found two officials of the Bacolod Southeast Asian Games Committee (BASOC) civilly liable for the P36.8 million disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) covering negotiated contracts for the construction of venues and facilities needed for the Bacolod leg of the 23rd SEA Games in 2005.

In a 17-page decision penned by Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao and made public on February 28, 2023, the Court en banc denied the petition with urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction  filed by BASOC chairperson Monico Puentevella seeking to set aside the November 9, 2016 decision and the January 31, 2020 resolution of the COA which affirmed  the notice of disallowance (ND) issued against him and secretary-general Eric Loretizo.

While the Court affirmed the ND, it modified COA’s ruling by remanding the case to the agency for the determination of the civil liability of Puentevella as well as Loretizo.

The SC explained that “despite the impropriety of the contracts” with different contractors and suppliers, they are still entitled to retain the value of their deliveries and services to the BASCO.

The determination of the amount that the contractors and suppliers are entitled to, according to the SC, is factual in nature and beyond its authority.

The Court said the total amount that the contractors and suppliers are entitled to retain should be deducted from the disallowed amount of P36.8 million.

“Disbursement of large public funds deserves no less; tax payers’ money should always be spent with paramount consideration of full transparency and reasonable budget allocation,” the SC said.

“Indubitably, these cannot be wantonly sacrificed on the altar of exigency inasmuch as reckless handling and accounting of public funds have no place in a government that endeavor to keep inviolate the trust of the people,” the SC pointed out.

It can be recalled that the Council of the SEA Games Federation awarded to the Philippines the privilege to host the 23rd Edition of the SEA Games to be held from November 27, 2005 to December 5, 2005.

Aware of the need to undertake rehabilitation works in the playing venues in Bacolod City, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) granted financial assistance to the BASOC through the petitioner in the total amount of P50.5 million.

Due to tight schedule and budget limitations, the BASOC directly negotiated with contractors to hasten the rehabilitation of venues and facilities needed for the Bacolod leg of the sports event.

On January 30, 2014, COA’s special audit team revaluated all the documents submitted by BASOC and subsequently issued NB after it flagged a total amount of P36.8 million.

The special audit team found BASOC’s documentation inadequate and unable to support the validity and correctness of its various transactions covering the rehabilitation of the Paglaum Sports Complex, installation of weightlifting facilities at the Bacolod Convention Plaza and several others.

Thus, Puentevella and Loretizo were made liable for the disallowance as they were the signatories to the various infrastructure contracts with the suppliers and contractors.

Puentevella is currently the president of the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas. Loretizo, on the other hand, passed away last January.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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