THE Commission on Audit (CoA) has recommended legal action concerning “Buhay Carinderia,” a tourism project reportedly worth P80 million that was implemented last year by resigned Tourism Promotions B
oard Chief Operating Officer Cesar Montano.
Government auditors did not mention names but it made clear it is a must to “identify the persons liable to this onerous contract and institute appropriate legal actions against them, if warranted.”
“Compared with other TPB projects, Buhay Carinderia was so costly. The contract price for the project of P80.640 million plus Value Added Tax, was excessive as compared to other TPB projects, like the Madrid Fusion Manila 2017, with contract price of P43.417 million only,” the CoA report said.
It added, the TPB made P80 million in payments to contractor Marylindbert International Inc. (MII) without requiring them to submit liquidation and utilization reports with supporting documents, such of official receipts, invoices and other pertinent documents, as proof of expenses paid in the preceding tranche before the release of the next additional tranche.
Last year, Montano said the contract was a “sponsorship” deal with Marylindbert and not classified as “procurement,” which is normally covered by provisions such as public bidding.
TPB management, however, acknowledged lapses regarding the full payment made to Marylindbert.
“TPB has begun to undertake the necessary courses of action to ensure that it will be able to recover from MII funds that were released without observing applicable laws and rules,” the COA report quoted TPB management.
Former Tourism secretary Wanda Teo was also linked to the project in question.
Montano resigned from his TPB post in May 2018 after Tourism Chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat ordered the suspension of the “Buhay Carinderia” program. (RAMPADOR ALINDOG)