P1.24B worth of Nat’l Museum artworks, antiques not insured

Rappler.com
Around 66% of irreplaceable art and artifacts are not covered by any insurance policy. If they are stolen or damaged, we cannot recover their worth.

NO SAFEGUARDS. Around 66% of the artworks and artifacts in the National Museum are not insured because museum officials say there is no money to pay for insurance. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of paintings, sculptures, and archaeological finds in the National Museum worth P1.24 billion are not covered by any insurance policy, reported the Commission on Audit (COA).

So if a thief were to steal heritage treasures in the National Museum, or if a typhoon were to wash them all away, the country will not be able to recover their worth.

The uninsured artworks, artifacts, and equipment make up more than 66% of the total assets of the National Museum as of 2012. They amount to P1.846 billion, according to the audit report released on November 27.

“The chief administrative officer confirmed that there was no fund to cover the insurance of NM assets other than the motor vehicles hence, no insurance coverage was yet applied for,” COA said.  

Auditors urged museum officials to ensure its valuable collections and assets are covered in the event of loss or damage. The artifacts are, after all, the property of the Filipino people.

Failure to insure the museum collections violates Memorandum Circular No. 634 of the Office of the President requiring a yearly submission of a complete inventory of insurable “property, plant and equipment” to be appraised by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)

No money?

Museum officials explained to state auditors that the museum has no money to pay insurance coverage of its collections under the GSIS. Their yearly requests for funds have been ignored by the Department of Budget and Management because of the huge sum needed, said the officials.

But according to COA, the National Museum does have funds, just not in its official bank account.

Auditors traced an unrecorded transfer of more than P306 million to private banks from the Museum Endowment Fund through 7 separate withdrawals from November 2011 to November 2012. (READ: Where did P331-M Nat’l Museum endowment fund go?)

Some P188.926 million went to a Banco de Oro trust account, while P118 million made its way into a Bank of the Philippine Islands account.

COA raised alarm that the accounts were in the name “National Museum of the Philippines” instead of “National Museum,” the corporate name prescribed in the National Museum Act of 1998.

Auditors also noted that the COA and DBM were not told about the transfers. The transfers were not even documented. 

“The withdrawals/transfers of the MEF to BDO and BPI in the total amount of P306,926,248.99 were not covered by any disbursement or journal entry voucher but by mere memoranda; nor by any formal official receipt by the bank(s),” COA said.

As of June 30, the total amount in the two bank accounts was P331.926 million.

Museum officials assured COA that they are in the process of completing the records of the investments and that they will provide periodic updates on them.

National Museum Chairman Ramon del Rosario told Rappler last October that they will comply with COA’s order that the funds be returned to a government banking institution instead of private banks. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com

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