• COA orders PPA Batangas to demand P8-M

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    THE Commission on Audit ordered that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in Batangas should demand from a private company the unpaid P8-million dues.

    After records showed that the Port agency did not exert maximum efforts to collect P8.26 million from the General Milling Corp. (GMC), the three-member en banc of the Audit agency denied the request to write off the uncollected obligations of the company to the PPA.

    “The herein request for authority to write off noncollectible accounts receivable is hereby denied for the failure of the PPA to exert diligent efforts,” read the ruling of Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon.

    The case stemmed from a July 2009 letter of port manager Alex Cruz of PPA in Batangas City for the P8.26-million obligation of GMC to PPA be stricken out of the records because the company has already closed.

    The dues of GMC started as P1.7 million, but catapulted to P8.26 million in just two years between June 2003 and January 2005.

    “Several demand letters were sent but all turned out futile. Per verification, PPA-Batangas found that GMC ceased operations in 2006,” the ruling noted.

    Although foreshore lease contract stated that GMC will expire on August 2024, it already stopped operations in 2006.

    Because of this, two indorsement letters approved the writing off of the uncollected dues. But at the COA regional director level, the unnamed COA official opined differently and noted that “PPA made no effors to collect from GMC” since the company closed.

    Apparently, Gerion Salazar, officer-in-charge of GMC, sent a letter in April 2009, stating that any validated amount due to PPA would be settled promptly.

    Resolving the matter, the three-woman panel of the Commission sided ordered PPA to demand the P8.26-million unpaid money.

    The en banc said that dormant accounts of the government can only be treated as irretrievable when the account has not moved for 10 years.

    “[The] P8.26 million has not yet prescribed since the date when the amount became due and demandable is reckoned from January 25, 2005. Only eight years had lapsed as of this date,” the four-page ruling noted.

    Tellingly, COA ordered that “PPA can still collect the subject accounts from GMC” and junked the petition of PPA for it to be taken out of the books. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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