Oops! Sloppy job by Ombudsman probers

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    LAST week’s ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing the graft complaint against former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and other respondents contained one significant error – it wrongly claimed that the Commission on Audit did not issue a notice of suspension (NS) or a notice of disallowance (ND) regarding the ad placement payments made to Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. (BMUI)

    Verification showed there were two notices of suspension issued on June 27, 2018 – the first for P60,009,560 and a second one for P15,789,133.70 – or a total of P75.8 million.

    The NS required the People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI) to submit several documents, including a copy of the agreement between the network and BMUI for the airing of the commercial advertisements on program Kilos Pronto; the certificate of performance showing the BMUI program aired the Department of Tourism’s ads, the billing statement showing the computation of payments, and the budget utilization request duly signed attesting to the availability of funds.

    In 2019, the Commission on Audit said both NS were not fully complied with, resulting in the issuance of two notices of disallowance. An ND includes a requirement for the individuals held liable to refund the disallowed sum in its entirety.

    Page 18 of the 21-page Ombudsman ruling stated: “It is undeniable that while COA issued to DOT audit observation memorandum (AOM) No. 18-018 dated 10 May 2018 relative to the MOA between DOT and PTV showing a possible conflict of interest among others, there is no evidence on record however that the same had ripened to a notice of suspension (NS) or a notice of disallowance…”

    But a simple reading of the last three audit reports on PTNI in 2018, 2019, and 2020 readily showed the PTNI failed to submit the required documents in full, prompting the issuance of the NDs.

    All three audit reports can be found on COA’s official website and may be accessed with a few clicks of a mouse.