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COA upholds ruling Abpi ‘culpable’

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The Commission on Audit has upheld its Oct. 1, 2016 ruling that ex-Department of Public Works and Highways’ Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao caretaker Razul Abpi must not be spared among those culpable for disallowed transactions worth P846.54 million.

In a Jan. 29 decision, COA junked Abpi’s omnibus motion seeking reversal of the 2016 ruling,  recall of the Feb. 28, 2018 notice of finality of decision and his exclusion from the list of those held liable in the notices of disallowance.

The commission’s Special Audit Office issued the notices of disallowances on Aug. 26, 2011 based on findings that the procurement of construction materials for public works projects were only on paper and did not actually materialize.

In a motion, Abpi claimed his appeal was denied on a technicality although its filing had met the prescriptive period.

He said the 2016 decision was not officially served to him because of his retirement.

While he cited that his appeal was not decided on merits, the COA maintained that the audit team found evidence that the transactions were not subjected to public bidding, and that some were not supported by invoices or official receipts.

In addition, COA said the delivered materials were “inspected and accepted” by unidentified persons.

“Contrary to movant’s contention that there were no definite findings of irregularity, there is overwhelming evidence of irregularity in the transactions. Clearly, the above findings of the Audit Team are sufficient to warrant a conclusion that the transactions were spurious and irregular,” the decision read.

The decision was penned by COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo, and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc. 

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