The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) used P54.4 million in Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds despite the Supreme Court (SC) ruling in July 2014 that the program is unconstitutional, the Commission on Audit (COA) found.
This prompted state auditors to order PCA to hold the officers and employees behind the continued use of DAP funds liable and to return unspent DAP money to the national treasury.
The order was issued in June this year.
In a 2014 audit report on the PCA, the auditors said P274.455 million representing unused balance of the DAP fund “was only returned to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) after almost a year, while related expenses accumulating to P54.418 million were obligated and paid, notwithstanding the decision of the Supreme Court on July 1, 2014 that acts and practices under the DAP are unconstitutional.”
The PCA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) mandated to oversee the development of the coconut and other palm-oil industry.
According to the audit report, the agency received P492.857 million from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) through the BTr on June 16, 2014 for the implementation of calamity-related rehabilitation/restoration projects and other priority projects.
“Management, however, averred that they were never advised of the nature of the fund and ‘did not have any inkling that the source was DAP funds’ despite the fact that they were provided with a copy of the SARO [Special Allotment Release Order], which explicitly mentioned the intention of such release was for DAP,” the state auditors said.
Of the amount received, P92.097 million was released to the PCA’s Regional Offices (ROs)/Research Centers (RCs) while the remaining P400.760 million was retained at the Central Office.
These sums were for implementation of three DBM-approved projects — the Scale Insect Infestation Control Program (or Coconut Scale Insect Emergency Action Program-CSIEAP), Pablo Recovery and Rehabilitation Program (or Pablo Rehabilitation and Restoration Project-PRRP) and Coconut Hybridization Program (National Coconut Hybridization Project- NCHP).
The auditors said it was only in August 2014 that the PCA administrator approved the Work and Financial Plan for P17.369 million of the P20.297 million allotment released to Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) for the implementation of CSIEAP.
Moreover, the letters of ROs/RCs particularly those dated after the SC’s ruling in July 1, 2014 and which requested the release of funds “made no mention that expenses were already incurred/obligated to justify the same,” they added.
The PCA, however, asserted that fund releases to ROs/RCs totaling P92.097 million were supported with expenditures that were obligated or disbursed on or prior to July 1, 2014.
But the state auditors disputed this.
“Confirmation made with the respective Audit Teams of the said ROs/RCs revealed that obligations made prior to the promulgation of the Supreme Court decision amounted only to P9.188 million. After July 1, 2014, said ROs/RCs still obligated and paid expenses out of the DAP fund in the amount of P52.998 million,” they said.
“On the other hand, total disbursements made by the CO amounting to P156.216 million, which were solely for the implementation of CSIEAP, included various expenditures of P1.420 million, which were, however, incurred after July 1, 2014. Cash advances were also thereafter granted, such as that dated July 2, 2014 and July 31, 2014 amounting to P0.316 million and P 0.500 million, respectively,” the auditors added.
Of the P492.857 million it received, the PCA used P218.40 million of which P163.984 million was obligated and paid on or before the SC’s ruling and P54.418 million was obligated or paid after the SC’s ruling based on the audit report.
There was an unused balance of P274.455 million.
“The P54.418 million [is], however, considered disallowable expenditure as such [was]obligated and paid from the DAP fund after the promulgation by the Supreme Court of the unconstitutionality of said practice, as per G.R. [General Register] No. 209287 dated July 1, 2014,” the state auditors said.
“It was also observed that said unutilized balance of P274.455 million is lower than that reported as at December 31, 2014 of P277.755 million, or a reduction of almost P3.300 million… which only showed that disbursements have been continuously incurred in 2015, hence also considered disallowable expenditures,” the state auditors said.
“We recommend that management hold liable the officers and employees who caused the continued utilization of DAP funds and deferred return of the unexpended balance.”