COA questions transfer of ₱160M TESDA funds for anti-communist program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — State auditors are questioning the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for the transfer of over ₱160 million to its regional offices for the implementation of anti-insurgency programs.

In its report, the Commission on Audit said the fund transfers for the implementation of programs under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) worth ₱160,083,401.61 “are highly questionable for lack of proper 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.”

Among its regional offices, Davao was given the biggest allocation at ₱41 million, followed by Soccsksargen (₱23 million), and Caraga (₱13 million).

State auditors noted that Section 9 of Executive Order No. 70 states that initial funding for the order’s implementation “shall be charged against existing member-agencies of the task force,” which includeds TESDA.

However, it “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 added.

It also pointed out that EO No. 70 creating NTF-ELCAC and its activities were not among the identified projects of TESDA’s budget.

COA asked TESDA to provide legal basis for such transfers since this may be basis “for technical malversation of public funds.”

In response, TESDA justified that the funds used were taken out of their scholarship funds that can be used for various programs

However, COA said TESDA’s scholarships program already includes targeted beneficiaries in support of the EO so there was no need to transfer funds solely for this purpose, especially without setting a program of activities and guidelines.

CNN Philippines correspondent AC Nicholls contributed to this report.