COA reports

COA to CAAP: Get back P52-M ‘excess’ pandemic cash aid from air operators

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COA to CAAP: Get back P52-M ‘excess’ pandemic cash aid from air operators

COA. The Commission on Audit in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, on October 2, 2018.


COA has recommended a CAAP reevaluation of the requests of other air operators under the cash assistance program. Only 16 out of 219 'critically impacted businesses' benefited from the program.

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) asked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to get back over P52 million in “excess” cash grants it released to 16 air operators in 2021. 

According to the 2022 COA report on CAAP’s financial transactions released on August 30, state auditors found that the air operators which were qualified to receive pandemic assistance continued to get cash aid from CAAP beyond the six-month period provided under Republic Act (RA) No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

“Scrutiny of the documents revealed that the 16 beneficiaries availed of the grant for seven to eight months, exceeding the allowed six-month period under Section 4 (gg) (2) of RA 11494. The excess financial assistance amounted to P52.875 million,” the audit team said.

COA said the amount released to aviation companies beyond the six-month period is “deemed irregular.”

COA recommended that CAAP require the air operators to return the P52.875 million.

Responding to the observations in the audit report, CAAP said it interpreted the six-month period to apply once the specific request for a cash grant is made.

Since the Department of Transportation (DOTr) transferred the P300-million fund to CAAP in December 2020, under CAAP’s interpretation, the assistance program would be until June 2021. CAAP noted that the last approval of a cash grant was dated May 12, 2021, or within the six-month period, based on its interpretation of the law.

The audit team said in a rejoinder that the law “specifically provides that any critically impacted business may avail of the grant for not more than six months.”

The audit team said there is “no provision or amendment” that “increased the number of months that critically impacted businesses could avail of the grant.”

Reevaluate other cash aid requests

Under RA 11494 signed on September 11, 2020, the DOTr was directed to provide “grants or applicable regulatory fees to critically impacted businesses in the transportation industry.”

Department Order No. 2020-018 issued on October 26, 2020, provided for an assistance program to “assist critically impacted businesses to subsidize air navigation charges, landing and takeoff fees, and parking fees.”

COA said that based on its findings, there were 219 “critically impacted businesses” in the air transport sector but only 16 were granted cash aid. The audit report did not provide the names of the 16 air operators.

“The audit team conducted an in-depth examination of the amount of financial assistance granted to each beneficiary. We noted that only 16 air operators out of 219 critically impacted businesses benefited from the assistance program in the total amount of P300 million,” COA said.

COA recommended that the CAAP management “reevaluate the request of other critically impacted businesses to avail of the assistance program but were not granted and determine whether they are qualified for the program.”

COA also recommended that CAAP seek permission from the DOTr to re-allocate the “excess” released cash aid worth P52.875 million to other qualified beneficiaries, and if the DOTr denies the request, the amount should be reverted to the department.

On questions about the distribution of the cash grants, CAAP said the DOTr audit team had reviewed the utilization and liquidation of the P300-million cash aid, and found that CAAP utilized the amount within the period allowed by law.

CAAP also said the DOTr did not flag any improper fund disbursement in relation to the cash aid program.

Another COA finding is that of the P300-million cash assistance released by the DOTr in 2020 and distributed by CAAP in 2021, P248.011 million or 82.67% went to only three operators. –

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