STATE AUDITORS have ordered the Bacolod City government to pay a cargo service firm for the shipment of a donated patrol boat that was delivered almost eight years ago.
“The city cannot evade payment and unjustly enrich itself, especially when it admitted that it is already in possession of the patrol boat through the freight services of Air-Waves Cargo Services (AWCS),” the Commission on Audit (CoA) said in a decision dated May 30, 2022, but only made public recently.
CoA ordered the Bacolod city government to settle AWCS’ total claim of P430,200, which covers the shipping service and the cost of the steel trailer that supports the boat.
The 28-footer boat was donated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to the city government for patrolling activities under the government’s Bantay Dagat program, which is intended to monitor and implement the country’s laws on fishing.
Under the donation agreement, the city will cover the expenses of the vessel’s shipment from Manila to Bacolod city.
The city government refused to pay AWCS, citing that there was no contract between the two parties.
AWCS filed a civil case before the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod, which ruled that CoA had primary jurisdiction on the case.
CoA, in its decision, confirmed that there was no contract between the two parties but said the city government must still pay the shipping company on the basis of quantum meruit or paying for services rendered even if amount due isn’t specified in a contract.
During an ocular inspection, the audit team leader noted that the boat was in “rotten and unserviceable condition, proof that the equipment had been in the possession of the city for quite some time.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz