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COA says TESDA funds from DAP spent on ‘ghost trainees’


(Updated 1:32 p.m.) The Commission on Audit (COA) has found irregularities in TESDA's use of its funds sourced from the Aquino administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which has been partly declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, a television report said.

According to a report on "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho" on Tuesday night, the auditing agency discovered that TESDA may have used some of the P1.1 billion DAP funds it received to finance "ghost scholars" in 2011.

"Sixty-one attended multiple training courses which were held simultaneously... It was impossible for these scholars to be present at the same time in several training programs held on overlapping dates," the report said, quoting COA.

"Forty-six confirmed that they have never attended the subject training course while one could not remember the training program," it added.

It also said 218 scholars could not be reached through their stated contact numbers.



TESDA director general Joel Villanueva, for his part, blamed the "ghost scholars" to their accredited schools. He said they had already shut these schools down.

As for the 46 other scholars who claimed they had not attended a TESDA course, Villanueva said it may be possible that they are not aware that it was the agency which funded their training and only recognize the accredited school they are enrolled in.

For the 200 other scholars who cannot be reached, Villanueva said they may now be working abroad or have changed numbers.

Meanwhile, COA also revealed that at least P109 million from the P1.1 billion DAP funds received by TESDA — or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority — in 2011 was left unutilized.

"An unutilized balance of 109,382,957.78... thus, realization of expected benefits for gainful employment in order to reduce poverty and building competitiveness was not met," a separate report on "Saksi" said, quoting COA.

Unconstitutional

In July, the Supreme Court voted unanimously to strike down as unconstitutional specific acts under the DAP of the Aquino government.
 
The DAP is a discretionary fund that came under fire last year after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed that several senators received P50 million to P100 million after the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Senate impeachment court.
 
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda has indicated there was nothing criminal with the DAP even after it was struck down as unconstitutional.
 
The Aquino government said the fund came from "unobligated allotments of all agencies with low level of obligations as of June 30, 2012 both for continuing and current allotment" that President Benigno Aquino III ordered withdrawn on June 27, 2012. —Amanda Fernandez/KBK/KG, GMA News
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