COA Rundown: Gov’t agencies with deficiencies, irregularities in 2020

August 20, 2021 - 11:19 AM
The photo of the Commission on Audit's office in Quezon CIty taken on Aug. 17, 2021. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

The Commission on Audit did not single out a single agency as it flagged deficiencies and irregularities it observed about government agencies under the executive branch in their handling of public funds in 2020.

The COA afterward drew the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte who ranted against the state auditors and asked them to stop releasing their annual reports.

“Stop that flagging, g**d*** it. You make a report. Do not flag and do not publish it because it will condemn the agency or the person that you are flagging,” Duterte said.

READ: Who is COA’s boss? A look at its role, mandate as it faces Duterte’s opposition

COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo remained steadfast and pointed out their constitutional duty during a congressional hearing last Tuesday.

“We understand the concern of the President, but of course, to begin with, you know we do not flag; we observe and recommend. The flagging is actually a term used by media, pero kami, hindi nag-flag. Because some of our observations are actually positive, hindi naman pina-flash ‘yung positive,” he was quoted as saying.

“So ayon, pero so far as the work of the Commission on Audit, tuloy pa rin kami, we have a constitutional mandate, we have to comply with that,” he added.

READ:‘#ProtectCOA’ trends as audit chief vows to do job despite criticisms

While state auditors are now caught in the crosshairs of some government officials, they earned praises and support from Filipinos for holding them accountable for the use of public funds, particularly during the year when the pandemic hit.

Some social media users have also kept track of the departments and offices COA had already flagged.

They shared screenshots of Google searches about them, a collage of screenshots of news reports, and even a witty game of bingo.

COA’s annual audit reports are publicly available on its website.

Flagged national government agencies and COA’s findings so far

Based on reports, here are the departments under the executive branch that COA had called out for irregularities.

Department of Health – P67.32 billion worth of deficiencies by the end of 2020

Department of Budget and Management – P95.45 million worth of COVID-19 items from private suppliers which are “slow-moving”

Department of Transportation – P2.16 billion undelivered license plates to registered car and motorcycle owners since 2014

Land Transportation and Regulatory Board – Only 1% or around P59 million of the P5.58 billion funds dedicated to PUV drivers and operators were used

Department of Information and Communications Technology — P170.273 million worth of laptops, tablets and pocket Wi-Fi devices purchased from a questionable firm

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) – P1.269 million worth of hygiene kits, snacks and bottled water purchased from a construction supplier; also P969,920.00 worth of hygiene kits, sanitary napkins and thermal scanners purchased to a firm which turned out to be a residential street in Pasay City

TESDA and NTF-ELCAC – Highly questionable transfer of P160 million worth of TESLA funds to its regional funds for National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) projects, citing lack of authority

Department of Social Welfare and Development – Incorrect or lack of documents for

  1. 28 million released for rebels under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP)
  2. 04 million released for the Livelihood Settlement Grant (LSG) assistance

Commission on Higher Education – Only P59.97 billion or 82.34% of its P72.83 billion budget were utilized

Department of Education – Lapses in the use of P3.22 billion of DepEd funds as of December 31, 2020

Philippine Ports Authority – Around P10.8 million worth of infinity pool construction for its training compound in La Union

Department of Agriculture – P34.45 billion worth of funds lacked “complete accounting records” and had “accounting errors/omissions”

Philippine National Police – Using only 12% or P86.57 million of the P722.95 million worth of anti-insurgency funds in 2020

Department of the Interior and Local Government – P3.63 billion in “unliquidated fund transfers” to government offices, both national and local, and non-government organizations

Department of Labor and Employment – Several deficiencies in the use of P7.27 billion of P7.31 billion budget for cash assistance programs

Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Piling up of P46.56 million seized forest products which resulted to losses to the government; P56.80 million more worth of confiscated equipment that were left idle

Department of Foreign Affairs – Underutilized cash allocation that resulted in the return of 39.39% or P8.29 billion to the Treasury; Failure to reconcile ledgers containing P350.76 million

Department of Energy – Released only 66.57% or P879.40 million of funds out of P1.83 billion allotment

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office – Paid state-run People’s Television Network P154.21 million worth of airtime and production of lottery draws even without a contract

Presidential Communications Operations Office – Massive hiring of 375 contractual workers, resulting in “unnecessary spending” worth P71 million.