COA orders Makati to pay P53-M to air-con contractor

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2020 04:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 17 2020 04:15 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Audit has ordered the Makati City government to pay P53.198 million to Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation as payment for the air-conditioning project for the Makati City Hall 2 which was completed from 2013 to 2014.

In a decision dated January 27, 2020, the commission partially granted the petition of HCC for the payment of P53.198 million which the city government refused to pay despite formal demands from HCC.

The COA however said its decision only covers the balance of the total project cost amounting to P142.454 million and not other expenses such as legal interest and attorney’s fees.

“To grant the same is tantamount to recognition of penalty or indemnity for damages which is not within the authority of this Commission to decide but by the regular courts,” the COA said.

HCC, owned by businessman Efren Canlas, was involved in allegedly anomalous projects in Makati City which led to the filing of graft cases before the Sandiganbayan against former mayors Jejomar Binay, Sr. and Jejomar “Junjun” Binay, Jr.

The formal demands for the payment of the balance and other expenses were sent by HCC on February 23, 2016, May 8, 2017 and July 18, 2017 or during the administrations of former mayor Romulo Peña, Jr. and current Mayor Abby Binay.

The commission noted that the project was completed on July 19, 2014 but the city government denied payment of the balance on the ground that some documents showing compliance to Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act were not presented.

“While the absence of these documents may show violations in the procurement procedure, equity dictates that HCC, which had no control over the procurement process should not be blamed for the deficiency. Thus, it should be compensated for what it had performed,” the COA said.

The decision was signed by COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose Fabia and Roland Pondoc.