CoA finds lapses in DSWD program for crisis fund


STATE AUDITORS have found “oversight” by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in its implementation of the assistance program for members of marginalized sectors in crisis situations.

The Commission on Audit (CoA), in its 2020 report, cited “deficiencies” in around P722.8 million worth of funds distributed under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).

The AICS is intended as an immediate cash and material assistance for individuals who have gone through an unexpected crisis such as illness or death of a family member.

The lapses in program implementation, which CoA said deprived “the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized sectors of the society as the main priority concern of the program,” were observed in the regions of Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.

Among the deficiencies found by state auditors were defective or lack of supporting documentation to the disbursed funds, and incomplete information encoded into the Crisis Intervention Monitoring System (CrIMS).

CoA recommended in its report that DSWD order regional offices to submit the complete and proper documents, conduct an investigation on the special disbursing officer in charge, and simplify the CrIMS encoding system.

“CrIMS requires 77 data entries per client and a longer time is required for the encoder to ensure that all client’s information have been encoded in the system, coupled with inadequate personnel assigned to CrIMS,” CoA said.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives said on Tuesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has no authority to stop CoA from performing its constitutional mandate.

Mr. Duterte, in a late Monday night televised address, told CoA to stop flagging government agencies and publishing its audit reports following public outrage over “deficiencies” found in over P67 billion worth of funds under the Department of Health for pandemic response.

“The right of the people to information cannot be negated and quashed by invoking that [government] officials should be shielded from ‘corruption by perception’,” Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said in a statement.

He added that it is CoA’s obligation as an independent commission to disclose “sanctionable negligence to utilize public funds and the culpable misuse of the people’s money.”

Mr. Lagman also said that Mr. Duterte should order the prosecution of officials responsible for flagged deficiencies in concerned agencies instead of castigating state auditors.

Similarly, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate said CoA is just doing its constitutional duties and a disruption of its mandate would enable widespread corruption in government.

“[President Duterte] said before that ‘a whiff of corruption’ would be broken, but why is a government agency in charge of safeguarding against corruption being silenced and those who have irregularities in the use of public funds are being protected,” he said in Filipino. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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