COA flags PCOO for P1.8M meal expenses in meetings

The Commission on Audit (COA) flagged Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for its P1.8 million worth of meal expenses during meetings as they lack supporting documents.

COA’s annual report on PCOO showed it spent P1.8 million for meals during different meetings. However, no documents were provided whether the meetings were official, which could have violated the Presidential Declaration 1445 and COA Circular No. 2012-001.

According to Section 4.6 of PD No. 1445, “claims against government funds shall be supported with complete documentation,” while COA Circular No.  2012-001 requires that all types of disbursements must be backed up with sufficient and relevant documents to establish the validity of claims.

“Thus, their legality and reasonableness could not be validated,” COA said.

COA added that aside from Official Receipts and Sales Invoices, the PCOO should have submitted the following documents as proof that such meal expenses were incurred:

  •     Notice of the meeting
  •     Agenda
  •     Minutes of meeting
  •     Attendance Sheet/list of guests and attendees with signature of attendees, if possible
  •     photos, video coverage

“The verification made on the DVs (disbursement vouchers) revealed that only certifications and receipts for meals were attached to the voucher to support the P1,830,720.52. Thus, propriety and authenticity of the claim is doubtful,” COA pointed out.

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PCOO flagged for P1.8M meal expenses in meetings

The breakdown of PCOO spending on meals for meetings for the year 2019 is as follows:

  •     P175,817 in January
  •     P342,890 in February
  •     P71,343 in March
  •     P143,013 in April
  •     P84,429 in May
  •     No record in June
  •     P213,702 in July
  •     P189,034 in
  •     P134,537 in September
  •     P164,344 in October
  •     P100,190 in November and
  •     P211,415 in December

“If receipts and other documents are not available, the claim for representation expense may be supported by a certification that a meeting was held or an official transaction was conducted,” COA said.

“However, this certification must be corroborated by other supporting documents to attest to the occurrence of an official event. Otherwise, it is just a self-serving document,” COA added.

COA advised PCOO to require concerned officials and its accountant to submit the documents needed to support the P1.8 million expenses.

PCOO, meanwhile, said it would comply with the COA’s requirements.