Personal liability of the official or employee for unlawful expenditures

With respect to the liability of petitioner, we likewise affirm the COA’s ruling that he is personally and solidarily liable for the disallowed amount.  The doctrine of separate personality of a corporation finds no application because CDA is not a private entity but a government agency created by virtue of Republic Act No. 6939 in compliance with the provisions of Section 15, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, respondents satisfactorily established that petitioner acted in bad faith when he prevailed upon the DAP-TEC to modify the initial result of the technical evaluation of the computers by imposing an irrelevant grading system that was intended to favor one of the bidders, after the bids had been opened.

          Section 103 of Presidential Decree No. 1445 (Government Auditing Code of thePhilippines) provides:

SECTION 103. General liability for unlawful expenditures. —  Expenditures of government funds or uses of government property in violation of law or regulations shall be a personal liability of the official or employee found to be directly responsible therefor.  (Emphasis supplied.)

          Further, Section 19 of the Manual on Certificate of Settlement and Balances under COA Circular No. 94-001 datedJanuary 20, 1994provides:

19.1. The liability of public officers and other persons for audit disallowances shall be determined on the basis of: a) the nature of the disallowance; b) the duties, responsibilities or obligations of the officers/persons concerned; c) the extent of their participation or involvement in the disallowed transaction; and d) the amount of losses or damages suffered by the government thereby. x x x

          Petitioner believes that there is no basis to hold him personally liable on account of the fact that the purchased computers were not inferior in quality.  In support thereof, he submitted a certification dated September 12, 2003issued by incumbent CDA Executive Director, Atty. Niel A. Santillan, that 68% of the Tetra computers, or 30 out of 44 units, are still operational even after twelve (12) years of continuous use.  Only fourteen (14) units have become unserviceable, which means that the Tetra computers have proven their worth and thus vindicated petitioner, the CDA, CDA-PBAC and the DAP-TEC.[36]

          We are not persuaded.

          The continued serviceability of the purchased computers is not a factor in the determination of whether the price paid by the government was unreasonable or excessive.  The damage or injury caused to the government refers primarily to the amount exceeding the allowable variance in the price paid for the item purchased under a transaction which is not the most advantageous to the government.  In this case, it was clearly shown that CDA could have purchased the same quality computers with similar technical specifications at much lower cost and the result of technical evaluation was manipulated to favor one bidder, for which the COA found the petitioner to be directly responsible.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
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