MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has allowed the Department of Science and Technology’s Central Luzon office to write off P23.85 million in uncollected loans to victims of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption.
COA, in its decision dated January 10, said that based on the validation of the loan program conducted by the DOST and the audit team leader, “individual beneficiaries are either dead, have no capacity to pay, or can no longer be located.”
“The loan receivables…are considered dormant since they have remained non-moving for 10 to 20 years and the probability of collection is nil,” the agency added.
The latest decision set aside the COA’s June 2016 ruling that disallowed the write-off on the basis that the DOST failed to exhaust all means of demanding payment from the victims.
In the latest ruling, the COA made it clear that write-offs are not equivalent to condonation or release of the debt obligation, and that the agency can still demand payment should the loans become collectible. Write-offs simply allow the agency to maintain a more updated assessment of its current assets.
The DOST, tasked then to implement livelihood projects for Pinatubo victims, granted loans to families displaced by the Pinatubo eruption.