/ 17 August 2021

THE COMMISSION on Audit has flagged various transactions in the utilization of the P7.2-billion Covid19 funds for the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan.

In their Annual Audit Report given to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, COA disclosed that there were lapses in the utilization of P3,220,873,835.58 Covid19 funds provided under the Bayanihan 1 and 2.

“Moreover, the validity and propriety of BE-LCP financial/disbursement transactions totaling P4,009,042,807.72 were not fully ascertained by the Audit Team,” COA stated in the report.

The report said the audit observation was noted because of the non or incomplete submission of required documents for the transactions or the delayed or non-submission of perfected contracts, purchase orders and other supporting documents.

The state auditors also reported the DepEd’s failure to comply with the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act and other issuances aimed and ensuring fair and honest transactions.

COA revealed that disbursements made by the agency were not backed with supporting documents.

The auditors also noted the lapses in the expenditure of P3.2 billion which include the delayed release of P1,390,073,721.10 to Regional Offices by DepEd’s central office.

According to the auditors, only P915,626,354.65 or 41.02% of the P2,232,216,345.18 obligated allotments was actually disbursed by six ROs.

The report also stated the “flawed/incomplete/delayed procurement, reproduction and delivery of Self-Learning Modules to 15 Ros.”

The state auditors added that the lapses had affected the overall effective implementation of the BE-LCP.

Based on the report, the DepEd had received P10,788,769,000 for the provision of learning resources while P1.17 billion was transferred as additional funding for the implementation of BE-LCP.

They explained that the low disbursement utilization rate in six regional offices were caused, among others, by the delay in the procurement and delivery of purchased items and other public health precautions prevailing during the year.

The audit report noted that the DepEd management had cited a number of reasons for the lapses such as the limited workforce and the imposition of movement restrictions for public health and safety.

“The audit team recognizes and understands the challenges posed by the current working condition,” COA stated.

“However, it has to be emphazied that the implementation of the program should not be affected by the setback in the timely release of the fund to maximize the benefits that can be derived therefrom and to assure the overall preparedness of the implementing schools in order to continue students’ learning amidst the threat and uncertainties brought about by the pandemic,” it added.

The report also stated that since government funds were not optimally utilized, the benefits that can be derived from the implementation of the BE-LCP program was not maximized thereby affecting the realization of its envisioned objectives.