COA flags ‘deficiencies’ in DOLE’s cash aid distribution for pandemic-hit workers in Pampanga

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — The Commission on Audit has flagged “deficiencies” in the distribution of financial assistance under the Department of Labor and Employment’s program for pandemic-hit workers in Pampanga.

In its 2021 audit report for the province, state auditors pointed out that under the DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Dispalced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program which had a budget of over ₱91.1 million for cash aid, payments made to 35 beneficiaries were received by an unauthorized claimant.

Further review of the daily wage payrolls showed that assistance amounting to ₱147,000 for 35 beneficiaries was claimed by only one person, who was not even their immediate family member. This was contrary to DOLE’s guidelines, COA said.

Of 25 benefitting workers in Magalang town, 15 confirmed receiving the money while the rest said otherwise, the COA added.

Authorities also reviewed information of 21,710 workers, of which 5,012 were found to be questionable. These beneficiaries were discovered to have either the same personal information like birthdate and contact number, same type of ID and ID numbers, or were recorded twice as recipients.

Most of the alleged anomalous recipients were in Lubao town with 1,365 involved beneficiaries. Of the 5,012 names, 2,288 shared the same contact numbers; 2,638 have the same ID and ID number; and 86 others received cash twice.

The COA also said while there were workers who received more than the ₱4,200 financial aid, some received less or were even denied. Supposed claimants who did not receive anything were from Magalang and Mexico, while those who received less were from Arayat and Mexico.

State auditors flagged the incomplete documentation of the payment of aid, which “cast doubt on the eligibility of the beneficiaries of the said program and might affect the assurance that the objectives of the program were fully achieved.”

Pampanga’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO) said the deficiencies were due to the restrictions and limitations in the implementation of TUPAD “as profiling and validation, including the gathering of possible beneficiaries, at once seem to be impossible,” thus profiling, encoding and printing of documents were done at the municipal level.

The PESO also said the issue on duplicated names will be further investigated.

Local authorities assured they will continue to improve their services and implementation of programs.