THE Commission on Audit demands official receipts for a total of P28.1 million funds allocated by Vice President Leni Robredo to its Angat Buhay Program under the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2018.
Based on COA’s annual audit report uploaded on its website, several deficiencies were identified on the funds transferred amounting to P44,664,978.64 to 29 cities and municipalities.
Records showed that out of the 29 cities and municipalities listed as the beneficiaries, 19 of the local government units (LGUs) did not issue official receipts (ORs) for the corresponding budget transferred to them for projects ranging from agricultural to livelihood assistance programs.
COA pointed out that this was in violation of the memorandum of agreement between the office of Robredo and the LGUs as well as of COA Circular No. 2012-001 on the Revised Guidelines and Documentary Requirements for Government Transactions and the Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code, which all mandate that the implementing agencies, in this case the recipient LGUs, shall “immediately” issue the ORs for the amount they received from the source agency (SA).
The audit body reiterated that under the MOA between the OVP and the LGUs, the latter shall regularly submit to the former their quarterly accomplishment report, which shall include fund utilization report, report of checks issued and report of disbursements certified correct by the municipal/city accountant and approved by the local chief executive.
“The inadequate monitoring by the OVP of the required reports does not speak well of its advocacy of helping the poor. The advocacy does not end at transferring the funds. The agency needs to observe and oversee that funds were utilized as intended,” the COA said in its 2018 audit report.
COA noted that the OVP failed to demand required documents and was satisfied with receiving a certification not prescribed under COA Circular No. 2012-001.
“Moreover, the OVP did not diligently follow up the submission of ORs, which is imprudent for… (SA), whose fund is being disbursed... It is of note that the absence of ORs casts doubt on the authenticity of fund transfers,” COA said.
“It could mean that the agency is not keen or interested in ensuring the legitimacy of its projects. Valid questions would be: Were the funds recorded in the books of the agency? If it was recorded, did the LGU record the correct amount?” the COA said.
Furthermore, COA noted that there was no clear procedure on the selection of LGU beneficiaries, thus “tainting the impartiality and fairness of the screening process.”
According to the COA, the OVP chose their beneficiaries “on a per request basis.”
“It is not clear who would initiate the request. Does it need to be the LGU itself or could anybody request for a favored LGU?” the commission added.
The COA flagged the local governments of Capalonga, Camarines Norte; Tinambac, Camarines Sur; Bato, Catanduanes; San Joaquin, Iloilo; Zamboangauita, Negros Oriental; Sumilao, Bukidnon; and San Remigio, Cebu failing to submit both ORs and reports to the OVP.
COA recommended to Robredo to revisit the guidelines on locally-funded projects and clarify the selection process and ranking system to avoid questions on partiality and bias.