CoA calls out three government agencies for fund misuse


State auditors on Friday questioned the Commission on Elections for failing to properly document P2.58 billion worth of transactions; the Department of Transportation for an unfinished P295-million toilet project; and the Philippine Health Insurance Company for issuing P163.85 million in unauthorized bonuses and allowances.

In a 2017 audit, the Commission on Audit questioned the Comelec for lack of certificates of availability of funds in connection with its 60 contracts worth P2.58 billion in the procurement of goods and services.

The contracts were considered null and void, and “thus resulting [in] illegal disbursements,” it said.

“Verification of the submitted contracts entered into by the Comelec disclosed that a total of P2,580,157,478.24 composed of 60 contracts for the supply and delivery of various goods and services were affected even with the absence of certificates of availability of funds,” state auditors said.

CoA said the finance services department only released a certification of availability of allotment and directed it and the bids and awards committee to explain their failure to secure a certification of availability of funds and explain why CoA should not issue notices of disallowances on the 60 contracts.

On April 18, Comelec’s financial services department, in a letter, apologized to CoA for its shortcomings, saying these were “purely and simply an oversight” because of the 2016 elections.

CoA also flagged Comelec for the release of P121 million for the hauling of the 2016 election paraphernalia, of which P119.28 million went to the joint venture of 2GO Express Inc. and 2GO Logistics Inc.

Comelec’s accounting department said disbursement vouchers had already been transmitted to CoA in November last year.

CoA’s other observation was the delivery of P2 million worth of 300,250 pieces of spiral notebooks by the Consolidated Paper Products Inc. for the technical working committees in 2016.

CoA also called the attention of the Department of Transportation for the P295-million unfinished toilet project in 2016.

In a 2017 audit report, state auditors mentioned again the department’s unfinished Kayo ang Boss Ko (KBK) toilet facilities improvement project at the stations of the Philippine National Railways.

CoA cited the lack of an inventory report on used and unused construction materials, saying the project management unit was only able to turn over four of the 45 memoranda of agreement as of Feb. 22, 2018.

On the other hand, the other 41 agreements “remained unacted by the recipients.”

CoA said it had been reporting the same findings in 2014 and 2015.

“The government may be left with unfinished/uncompleted toilet projects as a result of terminated contracts, which could not be used by the intended beneficiaries and ultimately cause wastage of government funds,” CoA’s January 2016 report read.

In the 2016 audit report, CoA said only 53.17 percent of the project was delivered three years after its implementation “due to poor project management, project termination and abandonment by contractors.”

The Transportation Department awarded 17 different contracts to three suppliers for P182 million for civil works and P113.7 million for toilet fixtures.

“No clear guidelines were issued for the proper internal control over the custody, accountability and reporting requirements for the aforementioned construction materials,” the audit agency said.

It told the department to conduct a probe into the failure to fully implement the toilet project, and file appropriate charges against those responsible.

CoA also upheld its order for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to return P163.85 million in unauthorized bonuses and allowances for its officials and employees in 2009, 2010 and 2014.

In its two decisions, the state auditors denied the plea of PhilHealth to lift the five notices of disallowance on its grant of unauthorized benefits.

It affirmed the disallowance of P80.79 million in Christmas, performance and anniversary bonuses in 2009 and 2010, and P83.06 million in educational assistance and birthday gift benefits in 2014.

The release of such bonuses violated the Department of Budget and Management Circular No. 11, CoA said.

Auditors said ordinary PhilHealth employees who got the bonuses in 2009 and 2010 were spared from the refund since they were just “passive recipients” who relied on the “honest belief that the amounts were due them.”

But these employees “cannot be deemed in good faith” for receiving the benefits in 2014.

PhilHealth filed a previous plea, challenged CoA’s findings and maintained its corporation fiscal autonomy for personnel compensation under its charter.

But CoA ruled that PhilHealth’s autonomy was not absolute.

It chided PhilHealth for the misuse of its members’ fund, saying “like any other social insurance, the members’ contributions are treated as a trust fund, and thus, should be managed and protected with the utmost integrity.”

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