CoA questions TESDA fund transfers to anti-communist insurgency program

THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has questioned the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for the fund transfer of P160.08 million to its regional offices for the implementation of programs under the national task force against communist insurgency.

State auditors cited that these transfers have a “lack of proper authority [or] legal basis and the absence of appropriate guidelines as to how this fund will be utilized, likewise exposing these funds to possible misuse or appropriation” in its 2020 annual audit report made public on Monday.

CoA reported that in their initial review, a P6-million fund provided by TESDA to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in the Soccsksargen region was used for “questionable activities.”

These activities include monthly meetings for the regional task force worth P1.7 million, security escorts for various activities worth P600,000, communication allowance worth P20,000, and accommodation worth P700,000.

CoA recommended that TESDA provide “legal authority” for its fund transfers as these may lead to charges for “technical malversation of public funds.”

Section 9 of Executive Order (EO) 70, which created NTF-ELCAC, notes that “the initial funding requirements for the implementation of this Order shall be charged against existing member-agencies of the task force,” which included TESDA.

According to the audit report, TESDA has explained that P147.38 million of the releases to the regional offices were taken out of the agency’s centrally-managed scholarship funds under the 2020 budget.

The agency also said that the transfers were in accordance with EO 70, along with TESDA Circular No. 11 which provides omnibus guidelines for its scholarship programs, defining special clients to include marginalized sectors along with wounded-in-action or killed-in-action military and police personnel along with their dependents.

State auditors responded in their rejoinder that Section 9 of EO 70 “does not give sole discretion to the head of the member agency to utilize its approved budget” for the NTF-ELCAC, especially when the order had “no well-defined program of activities and no guidelines were specifically formulated for its utilization.”

They also questioned the justification of TESDA Circular No. 11 as “the regular training of TESDA can readily cater to the needs of the targeted clients.” — Russell Louis C. Ku

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