COA questions DOJ victims fund spending

Rappler.com
COA says the DOJ used the Victims Compensation Fund for purposes other than helping victims of unjust detention

MANILA, Philippines – Government auditors raised questions on disbursements that the Department of Justice approved in 2011 against the P79.02 million Victims Compensation Fund (VCF).

The VCF was created to provide compensations for victims of unjust imprisonment or detention, and victims of violent crimes.

The Fund is administered by the Board of Claims, which is under the supervision of the DOJ.

In its 2011 audit report on the Justice Department, COA said there were expenses amounting to P5,503,766.63 “which are not related to the purpose for which (the Fund) was established.”

“[The] fund is being utilized for salaries of BOC (Board of Compensation) contractual employees, honoraria of those involved in the implementation of Victims Compensation Program, supplies, miscellaneous expenses and etc., and not for the purpose of the program,” COA noted in the report.

Documents showed P2.65 million went to “honoraria” for BOC, P1.89 million to salaries of BOC contractual staff, and almost P1 million for “supplies” and “miscellaneous expenses.”

COA held that charging BOC salaries, honoraria and supplies from the trust fund was irregular since the national government “provides a yearly appropriation for the operational requirements of the BOC.”

The audit agency said the unspent balance of the VCF should have been remitted to the National Treasury at yearend to enable the government to use the money for other priority programs, and to prevent questionable disbursements.

COA pointed out that there was no need to hold on to the VCF balance since the Fund has an automatic replenishment mechanism out of 1% net earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), and collections of P5 filing fees on civil cases in all local courts nationwide.

The DOJ however sought exemption from the COA recommendation, saying VCF balances should be maintained in its special account at the Land Bank of the Philippines for prompt payment of compensation claims by victims of violent crimes and unlawful detention. – Rappler.com