MANILA, Philippines – State auditors found irregularities in Davao City schools’ use of education funds, the Commission on Audit revealed in its 2014 annual report.
Last year, they also “failed to comply with the previous audit recommendation regarding the utilization of Special Education Fund (SEF),” COA noted.
Under Republic Act 5447 which created the SEF, such funds should be used for the following: improving school facilities, printing and acquiring books and other school materials, paying salaries of public school teachers, granting scholarships, and promoting physical education.
Any other activity, unless authorized by law, cannot be funded by SEF.
The audit team found that the public schools in the city spent P46 million on items and activities not provided under the law, including school trips, gas, electricity, water, and medical supplies.
These should have been charged to the available funds from the Department of Education (DepEd) as regular maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), according to the report.
COA defined the expenses as “irregular expenditures” or funds used for projects other than what is specified in the law.
“The amount could have been used for the construction and repair of public school buildings,” COA noted.
In a response to the report, the Schools Division Superintendent justified the expenses based on another joint circular by the DepEd, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
State auditors, however, said the circular cannot supersede the laws mandating the use of the funds.
Local school officials said they will try to limit the MOOE charges against the fund, considering their limited national budget.
Some groups had asked the COA to audit the SEF, among them business leader Jesus Lim Arranza who wrote then COA chairperson Grace Pulido Tan in June 2014.
Arranza had called COA’s attention to concerns that the fund was not being used according to its purpose, which is to benefit the public school system, in view of the continuing backlog in the construction of classrooms. – Vincent Bascos/Rappler.com
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