Vice President Leni Robredo, who lately has been demanding transparency on the Duterte administration’s foreign-funded projects, was tagged by the Commission on Audit (CoA) for questionable initiatives transferred to local government units (LGU) for implementation.
The CoA, in a 2018 report, questioned the regularity and authenticity of locally-funded projects (LFP) of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) after state auditors failed to monitor the transfer of funds.
The CoA noted the failure to monitor LFP of Robredo’s office resulted to the absence of official receipts (OR) for the transferred amount and the lack of liquidation and quarterly reports which “casts doubt on the regularity, completeness and accuracy of the projects.”
Robredo’s office had issued guidelines for the utilization of funds for the Angat Buhay advocacy, which responds to the services required of selected LGU that Robredo gets to fund.
Under Section 90 of the General Provisions of 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the LGU has the capability to implement the nationally-funded projects.
According to the plan, the LGU shall commit to fund the cost of maintenance, and the amount released shall be recorded as trust funds used for a specified purpose.
The LGU that implement the projects should also submit quarterly reports on fund utilization and accomplishments.
CoA reported that of the P80 million allotted for the LFP in 2018, P44.7 million or 53.83 percent were transferred to 29 cities and municipalities, while P26.95 million were obligated for transfer in 2019.
The audit agency said through their analysis and verification on the P44.665 million transferred amount, they found deficiencies in the report for the LFP.
CoA said that out of the 19 LGU, only 10 have issued OR for the transferred amount.
Contrary to law
This is contrary to the memorandum of agreement between the OVP and the LGU and CoA Circular 2012-001 on the Revised Guidelines and Documentary Requirements for Government Transactions requiring the agencies to present copy of the OR.
Aside from that, CoA said Presidential Decree 1445 also required the issuance of OR as it stated that “no payment of any nature shall be received by a collecting officer without immediately issuing an official receipt in acknowledgement thereof.”
CoA said, instead of OR, only a certification from the receiving LGU was handed to the OVP, which accepted the certification in violation of the documentary requirement under government auditing guidelines.
State auditors added the OVP “did not diligently follow up” the submission of the OR, which is “imprudent” for OVP which served as the source agency for the disbursements of the said funds.
“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 under the correct account?” CoA asked.
“It is of note that the absence of OR casts doubt on the authenticity of fund transfers to implementing agencies,” CoA added.
CoA also put Robredo’s office to task for failing to submit the required liquidation and quarterly reports on LFP.
The OVP reported that out of 29 LFP, seven were completed as of the end of last year, while five projects were completed last March 2019.
The 12 completed projects amounted to P19.6 million. No liquidation and quarterly reports for these LFP were submitted to the OVP or posted on the implementing agency’s website, which was required in the general provision of the 2018 GAA.
It was also contrary to the memorandum of agreement between OVP and the LGU as Item 2.1.4 of the said agreement stated the OVP and the LGU needed to coordinate and the LGU shall submit quarterly accomplishment reports that will include the Fund Utilization Report, Report of Checks Issued and Report of Disbursements certified correct by the accountant and approved by the Local Chief Executive and duly received by CoA.
CoA said both requirements were “unheeded” by the 29 LGU which received the funds.
Proper implementation lacking
“As discussed, the inadequate monitoring by the OVP of the required reports does not speak well on 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,” CoA said.
“The absence of liquidation reports and quarterly reports cast doubt on the accuracy and regularity of disbursements of the funds,” CoA added.
The audit agency suggested OVP to improve its monitoring on the fund transfers, instruct responsible officer to demand LGU to follow CoA’s guidelines and remind LGU on the provision of the GAA.
On the other hand, the OVP said that the certification acknowledging the receipt of funds were initially submitted by the receiving LGU while they were adjusting to the process of funds transfer.
The OVP said that it has sent formal letters to all LGU regarding the completion of the projects, adding that it plans to send new formal letters to LGU to demand the submission of the required documents.
It also formed Project Management Unit in the agency, which was composed of four personnel tasked to monitor the status of the projects.
Moreover, CoA flagged the unclear selection process of the LGU which will be receiving the funds from the OVP.