Palawan inmates ‘overfed’ in 2019 -- COA report

INMATES in Palawan were “overfed,” based on a report by the Commission on Audit (COA).  

Based on the COA report, the provincial government of Palawan spent P41.08 million on food supplies for the prisoners in 2019.

The amount exceeds the P27.5 million budget allocation or a whopping P13.54 million (49 percent).

Seeking clarification, auditors said the acting Provincial Budget Officer said the overspending resulted from “direct augmentations” of the food budget by lump sum funds.

It was learned that these were done without the approval of the provincial board or the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as required by the Supreme Court ruling in the 2008 case of Hon. Quisumbing et. al vs. Hon. Garcia.

“Thus, the practice of directly augmenting the expenditures from different programs without prior specific local authority or approval violated the afore-quoted ruling of the SC,” the COA said in its report.

The COA report added that out of the P41.08 million, more than half or P22.25 million did not undergo any public bidding as transactions for various food supplies. At least P16.5 million were paid through cash advance of special disbursing officers while P5.75 million rice procurement went through an agency-to-agency deal with the National Food Authority (NFA).

“The failure to conduct public bidding adversely affected the declared policy of the State on transparency, competitiveness, and economy in the government procurement. The procurements are neither surprise not abrupt that the timeline for public bidding cannot be ascertained,” the COA added.

Also in the same year, the province purchased rice worth P5.749 million to feed the detainees.  In terms of volume, the cost translates to 5,347 sacks of rice.

From January to December 2019, jail population averaged at 883 detainees with the high end of 1,130 posted in January and a low of 605 as of December last year.

By the government computation, each inmate was allocated 830 grams of rice per day or more than double the 384 grams “normal consumption per day per person.”

“It could be inferred that either the detainees were going obese or there was mismanagement of rice supplies for detainees, the former being an illogical conclusion,” the COA report said.