After the Commission on Audit’s (COA) controversial visit to the “deficiencies” of the Department of Health concerning their P67.3 billion COVID-19 response funds, another agency now questioned by the commission- the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
In the newly released 2020 audit report of the COA, up to P160.08 million “highly questionable” fund transfers from TESDA were received by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) even though “there is no proper authority/legal basis” and appropriate guidelines on how to use the money.
“Audit showed that from the CY 2020 appropriation, TESDA-CO transferred to [Regional Offices] a total amount of P160,083,401.61 for the implementation of [Executive Order] No. 70,” COA said.
“[It will] likewise [be] exposing these funds to possible misue of misappropriation.”
EO 70 refers to President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate forming the NTF-ELCAC in 2018, a branch of government that is often criticized for its erroneous red-tagging of activists, individuals, and organizations.
Under Section 4 of Presidential Decree 1445, nothing is said to be payable from the public treasury or depository unless it complies with an appropriation law or other specific “statutory authority.”
“EO No. 70 and its activities were not among the identified funded programs/projects in the current year’s apprpriation of TESDA and no Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) from the [Department of Budget and Management] was issued that authorized the reallocation of funds to cover the above fund transfers,” they added.
COA flags TESDA’s ‘questionable’ P160-M fund transfers to NTF-ELCAC
“We recommended that Management provide legal authority/basis for the fund transfers of P160,083,401.61 to ROs for the implementation of EO No. 7, for this may be a ground for technical malversation of public funds,” COA said.
Meanwhile, in a separate explanation on Tuesday, TESDA clarified that the P160.08 million allegedly transferred to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) despite “no proper authority/legal basis” guidelines if how to use the money.
“As far as I know, out of the total P160,083,401.61, the amount of P147,383,401.61 were releases to the Regional Offices. These funds were sources out from the TESDA Centrally Managed Funds, specifically from TESDA scholarship funds as reflected in TESDA’s budget FY 2020 [General Appropriations Act,” said Isidro Lapena, director-general of TESDA.
“On the other hand, the amount of P12.7-million balance from the P160 million were taken from the P45.9-million budget for the implementation of EO 70 allocated by [Department of Budget and Management] which are intended for the operating expenses for 17 regions,” he added.