December 9, 2022

Itogon, Benguet Mayor Victorio Palangdan said there is no irregularity in the municipality’s procurement of relief goods as part of its Covid-19 response in 2020.  
Responding to reports published in various news outfits, Palangdan said the municipality has already filed its initial response to the Commission on Audit regarding the latter’s audit observation that it received last year. 
He said the municipality is consolidating documents, especially records from the ground, to submit a comprehensive follow-up answer to the COA audit observation.
The COA, in its 2020 report, stated Itogon has procured goods through a memorandum of agreement previously entered into by the municipal government and the supplier amounting to P5,292,522.65, which is contrary to the procurement law.
COA said the municipal government violated Section 10 of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Government Procurement Act and the provisions of Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and GPPB Circular 01-2020 in purchasing the goods and services.
The COA said this deprived other legally, technically, and financially capable suppliers of equal opportunities in participating in the procurement process.
Palangdan, however, said the MOA is not the basis for the procurement which can be seen in the contents of the MOA and in the Bids and Awards Committee recommendations.
“The MOA was executed to secure a credit line and the prioritization in the delivery of goods by the supplier, in case it is awarded the procurement of the goods,” Palangdan said.
He said the MOA was only invoked after the BAC determined that the supplier is legally, technically, and financially capable, and awarded the procurement of goods through negotiated procurement which is allowed by law.
The mayor said the execution of a MOA with suppliers is a disaster preparedness activity encouraged by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the preparation of the disaster management plan of local government units.
As for the COA mentioning the procurement as contrary to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, he said the same law stated that agencies may directly procure from a supplier without need for a request for quotation or any equivalent document.    
Further, Palangdan said the audit observations on the unsigned and non-itemized distribution lists were also answered in the justification report attached on their Agency Action Plan and Status of Implementation as of Dec. 31, 2021.
He said the LGU distributed food packs containing a certain quantity of rice, canned goods, coffee, milk, sugar, and cooking oil.
He added that due to the strict implementation of anti-Covid-19 measures such as physical distancing, the ECQ food packs were left at designated dropping areas and picked up later by the beneficiaries.
This was done as a standard operating procedure due to lack of manpower and distant locations of the beneficiaries.
The mayor said this arrangement did not allow the village officials to secure the signatures of the beneficiaries. However, if the justification is not accepted, the local government can return the distribution lists to the villages to let the beneficiaries acknowledge the goods. – Ofelia C. Empian