COA reports

OPAPRU cash advances balloon to over P50M, audit report shows

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OPAPRU cash advances balloon to over P50M, audit report shows

Retired General Carlito Galvez Jr. attends the 2023 budget hearing of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, at the Senate on September 28, 2022. Angie de Silva/Rappler

COA notes that much of unliquidated cash advances were made from 2016 to 2021, during the Duterte administration

Two former staff members at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) failed to account for over 44% of the more than P50 million in unliquidated cash advances in the agency that ballooned during the Duterte administration, state auditors disclosed in their annual report.

OPAPRU, formerly known as the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), an entity under Malacañang, offers guidance and recommendations to the President on matters of peace, unity, and reconciliation.

The office engages in conflict resolution, dialogue promotion, and cooperative initiatives among diverse factions to establish national stability and harmony, especially in Mindanao.

According to the Commission of Audit (COA), which sent an audit report to presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. on June 29, OPAPRU’s unliquidated cash advances ballooned to some P50.6 million in five years.

The COA audit report showed that P35.9 million, or 93%, of the receivables accrued from 2016 to 2021, primarily during the Duterte administration, with some dating back to 2009 to 2015.

State auditors reported that these cash advances were distributed among 78 OPAPRU personnel, only two of whom continue to hold active positions. 

They said the cash advances were drawn by 36 people who had ended their contracts, 20 who had resigned, 10 who were untraceable, three who were not OPAPRU staff members, two who were deceased, two who were terminated, two who went absent without leave, and one who retired.

The COA report did not identify those with unliquidated cash advances.

State auditors noted that two “terminated” personnel accounted for the largest cash advances, amounting to more than P17 million.

The 2022 report from state auditors also showed P12 million in unliquidated cash advances released to special disbursing officers (SDOs), along with P38.6 million in agency program-related receivables.

As of December 31, 2022, the audit team noted that the cash advances of SDOs which remained unaccounted for a month to one year stood at P4.6 million, one to two years at P3.7 million, two to five years at P3.3 million, and over five years at P227,029.

The COA urged OPAPRU to initiate legal proceedings against former and current officials and employees associated with the agency’s unliquidated cash advances.

Auditors said their failure to liquidate the cash advances within the specified timeframe is valid grounds withholding of salaries and subject to penalties based on Civil Service Commission (CSC) rules.

State auditors also said the Revised Penal Code provides that a government official’s inability to account for public funds or assets upon demand constitutes prima facie evidence of their conversion for personal use.

“We reiterated our recommendation that management direct the concerned SDOs to liquidate their past due cash advances on or before June 30, 2023 otherwise the penalty prescribed in CSC MC No. 23, s. 2019 shall be imposed,” read part of the COA report.

Penalties for unliquidated cash advances range from one to three months’ suspension for partial liquidation and dismissal from government service due to gross negligence for those failing to submit any liquidation.

OPAPRU, for its part, said the Financial Management Service has requested salary withholding for SDOs with pending cash advance settlements, and legal actions were being studied. –

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  1. ET

    Thanks to COA for this finding under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU). Hope that said “legal actions” which are being studied will not only end up in the “study” phase only. The OPAPRU was so busy under the Duterte Administration that it failed to look into those unliquidated cash advances while at the same time it failed to bring Peace, Reconciliation and Unity to the country.

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