COA flags Baguio City's mishandling of COVID19 funds

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) — The Commission on Audit has questioned Baguio City officials for mishandling some P61 million in COVID-19 response funds.

In its 2020 report, the COA flagged the city's cash advances for operating expenses with no identified purpose and proper supporting documentation.

"The absence of supporting documents or even estimates of quantities and description of items to be procured out of the cash advances indicated that the City Government granted the cash advances without considering details of project requirements," state auditors said.

Furthermore, auditors said cash advances were continuously made even though no settlements were made on the previous cash advances.

It also questioned why payments for emergency purchases of goods and medical supplies were made in cash instead of checks.

This supposedly added complication to the procurement process, contrary to section 4(k) of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

In its comment, the city management explained accounting and auditing rules were not strictly implemented due to extraordinary circumstances.

"If they had strictly followed the rules, the City Government would not have been able to purchase the needed supplies on a timely manner as called for by the current situation," it said.

Auditors added the city failed to submit a summary report detailing donations it received from various government agencies, private individuals and entities.

"Had the required reports been prepared, the receipt and utilization/distribution of the aids and donations could have been properly accounted for and duly monitored," COA said.