/ 12 September 2021

SENATOR Leila de Lima called for a Senate investigation in the utilization of TESDA’s Covid19 funds and the disbursement of P160 million to the government’s anti-insurgency task force, among other irregularities.

De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 886 directing the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the reported deficiencies flagged by the Commission on Audit in its 2020 audit report on TESDA.

“It is necessary to investigate these issues and determine once and for all whether the transfer of funds is viable and what impact it will have on the utilization of public funds,” she said.

In the COA report, it noted that despite lacking authority, TESDA transferred P160 million to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in 2020, with the vocational training agency’s office in the Davao region receiving the biggest chunk of P41.95 million.

COA noted that ‘fund transfers amounting to P160,083,401.61 are highly questionable for lack of proper authority/legal basis and the absence of appropriate guidelines as to how this fund shall be utilized, likewise exposing these funds to possible misuse or misappropriation.’

The commission likewise flagged ‘disparities’ in TEDSA’s use of P768.53 million in Covid19 funds, noting its utilization rate of funds transferred to regional offices did not match the low rate of enrolled scholars and the actual number of graduates.

The lady senator from Bicol maintained COA has the sole duty to ensure that effective controls are in place to protect government financial assets and properties, improve effectiveness and efficiency, and be a vital instrument against corruption and misuse of public funds and properties.

De Lima said TESDA should provide legal authority or justification for the financial transfer since this could serve as a pretext for technical misappropriation of public funds which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code.

“Given that the TESDA appropriation for CY 2020 was intended for the implementation of the agency’s programs/projects following its mandate, the funds should have been used accordingly,” De Lima said.

“Kailangang imbestigahan ang ganitong mga iregularidad. Lalo na ngayong pandemya, ang pondong dapat napupunta sa edukasyon at kasanayan para magamit sa kabuhayan ng Pilipino ay hindi dapat napupunta sa pagpapataba ng bulsa ng mga magnanakaw at abusado,” the senator added.