By Ben Rosario
The mass resignation of several employees of the National Printing Office (NPO) has resulted in a Commission on Audit (COA) decision to direct the return to the government of P139.46 million payments for the “irregular” lease of equipment from January to March, 2017.
COA affirmed a notice of disallowance dated September 6 as it declared that the NPO’s subcontracting deals violated Section 4.6 of the Government Procurement Policy Board Resolution No. 05-2010.
Five NPO officials and owners of 12 private printing firms were ordered to return the amount of lease payments for the irregular deals.
The said resolution required the NPO to directly undertake the printing of official government forms and prohibited it from engaging any private printer.
COA issued the order for return of payment to Director Francisco Vales Jr., acting Financial Management Division chief Winifredo Talla, acting Production, Planning, and Control Division chief Buenaventura Gonzales Jr., PPCD officer-in-charge Ruben Dancel, and Budget Section OIC Leah dela Cruz.
Also ordered to return the funds were the following subcontractors: Advance Computer Forms, Inc.;Bestforms, Inc.; Consolidated Paper Products, Inc.; Eastland Print Ink, Inc.; Holy Family Printing Corp.; J.I. Printers, Inc.; Mercury Int’l Security Printing Corp.;Metrocolor Corp.; Nova Business Systems, Inc.; Tone Guide Press, Inc.;Triprint Corp.; and Western Visayas Printing Corp.
COA issued the directive after the National Bureau of Investigation was prompted to look into the deal as a result of the mass resignation of NPO personnel headed by Sherwin Prose Castaneda, chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee, on November 21, 2016.
They complained of “‘too much’ pressure” from Vales – a former Davao City government official – to bid out the lease of printing machines to a favored contractor, according to a letter published in the NPO website.
BAC member Jennifer Tomas retracted her resignation then accused Castaneda of making her sign the contents of a letter protesting the alleged irregularities in the procurement.