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COA questions TESDA over P160-million ‘highly questionable’ fund transfer to NTF-ELCAC

State auditors on Tuesday flagged the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) over its “highly questionable” transfer of P160 million from the central office to regional offices for the rollout of the government’s anti-communist programs.

In its 2020 audit report, the Commission on Audit (COA) raised the alarm over the channeling of a total of P160,083,401 to implement the programs under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which was created under Executive Order No. 70.

“Fund transfers… amounting to P160,083,401 are highly questionable for lack of authority/ legal basis and the absence of appropriate guidelines as to how this fund shall be utilized, likewise exposing these funds to possible misuse or misappropriation,” COA said.

COA advised the management of TESDA to provide a legal basis for the fund transfers, saying this may be “ground for technical malversation of public funds.”

The regional office in Davao received the highest fund transfer at P41 million, followed by the offices in SOCCSKSARGEN and Caraga at P23 million and P13 million, respectively.

According to COA, Section 9 of EO No. 70 states that the initial funding for the implementation of the order shall be charged against the existing appropriations of member-agencies of the task force and other appropriated funding sources.

“However, the above provision is not clear as to how the charges to the appropriation of the member-agencies shall be made and what are the requirements as basis or authority for the charging,” COA said.

The agency also noted that the executive order and its activities were not identified funded programs in TESDA’s appropriation and that no special allotment release order was issued. 

“Moreover, provisions of EO No. 70 do not give specific authority to member Agencies to exercise sole discretion to allot funds for its implementation out of its appropriation and in the absence of implementing guidelines,” it said.

“More so, with the grant of fund augmentation for the same purpose when the needs have not yet been established,” it added.

TESDA explains

In answer, the TESDA management said that P146 million was taken out of the TESDA Scholarship Fund for distribution to regional offices subject to TESDA scholarship rules and regulations.

However, COA said this is also questionable.

“Special clients of TESDA Scholarship Program… is already all-encompassing, and actually includes those targeted beneficiaries in support of EO No. 70, hence to transfer funds… is questionable since the regular training programs of TESDA can readily cater to the needs of targeted clients,” it said.—LDF, GMA News