By Ben Rosario
Former officials of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) have been ordered to return to government some P9.68 million in excess rice allowances distributed to the agency’s employees in 2011.
The Commission on Audit Commission Proper (COA-CP) issued the directive after ruling as final and executory its 2015 decision affirming the Notice of Disallowance (ND) issued by COA in 2012.
In a decision issued recently, the COA-CP junked a petition for review filed by former Administrator Maximo Mejia, stressing that the former Marina official failed to follow rules on the timely filing of the appeal.
“Having been filed beyond the reglementary period for appeal, the decision has become final and executory pursuant to Section 22.1 of the Rules and Regulations on the Settlement of Accounts…,” the three-man body said.
Records of the case indicated that the questioned ND was received by Marina on March 23, 2012.
Mejia filed an appeal on September 13, 2012 but this was denied by the COA National Government Sector (NGS) Cluster 7 in a decision handed down on March 5, 2015.
After receiving a copy of the decision on March 18, 2015, Marina took until September 16, 2015 to file its petition for review.
“Pursuant to Section 3, Rule VII of the 2009 Revised Rules of Procedure of the COA (RRPC), the appeal to the COA Commission Proper (CP) shall be taken within the time remaining of the six months (180 days) period under Section 4, Rule V of the same Rules, taking into account the interruption of the period upon receipt by the Director of the appellant’s Appeal Memorandum and its resumption to run upon receipt by the appellant of the Director’s decision,” the Commission Proper explained.
“In the case at hand, Marina used a total of 355 days from receipt of the ND up to the filing of this petition before the COA CP, which is beyond the allowable six months (180 days) period under the 2009 RRPC. Thus, this petition was filed out of time,” it said.
The COA body added: “Moreover, even assuming that this petition was to be decided on the merits, the same should still be denied for lack of legal basis.”
Audit officials explained that the subject CNA incentive, which also includes the Rice Allowance, “are in excess of the limit prescribed under Item 3.5 of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Budget Circular (BC) No. 2006-1 dated February 1, 2006, as amended by DBM BC No. 2011-5 dated December 26, 2011.”
The Commission Proper said that the issuances enjoy the presumption of constitutionality and legality until these are set aside with finality by a competent court. Thus, it said, the alleged “excess” was “correctly disallowed in audit.”