COA to La Union state university: Explain 'diverted' funds

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) asked a state university in La Union to explain the "diversion" of funds meant for textbooks and building maintenance to a cash incentives program for officials and employees.

In a 2018 audit report released on April 25, COA found that the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) in Bacnotan, La Union, reallocated P31.692 million originally for textbooks, building repairs, and equipment procurement.

Only P26.906 million or 45% of the P59.826 million for maintenance and other operating expenses were spent for the purpose. The rest went to the payment of Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) incentives, said the audit report.

CNA incentives are given to both management and rank-and-file government employees "in recognition of their efforts in accomplishing performance targets at lesser cost, in attaining more efficient and viable operations," according to Joint Resolution No. 4 signed in 2009. 

The audit report said the P4.5 million allocated for the "repairs and maintenance - buildings" item, the P1 million for transportation and delivery services, and the P450,000 for textbooks and instructional materials were reduced to zero. 

Funds worth P150,000 for "office equipment," P150,000 for "chemical and filtering supplies and materials," plus P125,000 for other machinery and equipment were also gone. 

In addition, the allocation for "repairs and maintenance - other structures" was reduced from P3.5 million to P212,390, while "internet subscription expenses" went down from P1.575 million to P181,440.

COA explained that the CNA incentives should have been taken only from savings via cost-cutting measures and system improvements that the agency has implemented.

The removal of allocations for repairs and maintenance of buildings and equipment "cannot be considered cost-effective and prudent," said COA, "as this will consequently lead to the absence of preventive and remedial repairs, causing not just further deterioration of the assets but also posing risks to the safety of personnel."

COA ordered DMMMSU management to justify these realignments. – Rappler.com