The Commission on Audit has flagged the Department of Education for unliquidated cash advances of P1.9 billion in 2019.
The report was released days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a government-wide crackdown on corruption.
The Department of Justice-led task force mandated to probe corruption in the entire government was formally constituted yesterday as its members agreed on the parameters for determining which allegation of corruption or anomalies will be considered as priority.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the task force will set up an operations center at the DOJ to receive, filter, and validate complaints and reports of corrupt activities in government.
“Our objectives are to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption, expedite the resolution of pending corruption cases, and launch a campaign or advocacy to prevent further acts of corruption,” he said.
In an annual audit report, state auditors said the unliquidated cash advances included unsettled accountabilities due from retired, resigned, transferred or deceased former personnel of regional offices in Cagayan Valley, the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas. Similar unsettled accounts were observed in the subdivision offices of Cadiz City and Nueva Ecija.
Aging unliquidated advances totaled P1.158 billion in the DepEd Central Office and in nine regional offices, the COA said. Of this total,P907.86 million was granted during the year, while P250.47 million involved cash advances granted in previous years that have been due for over one to 10 years.
DepEd’s Region 5 had the highest amount of unliquidated cash advance of P445.5 million, followed by Region 6 with P411 million, Region 12 with P290.3 million, Metro Manila with P158.9 million, Region 13 with P125.6 million, Central Office with P101.8 million, Region 4B with P93.9 million, Region 9 with P79.5 million and Region 1 with P70 million.
The rest were Region 10 with P59.8 million, Region 3 with P34.7 million, Region 8 with P15.7 million, Region 2 with P15.3 million, Region 11 with P14.8 million and Region 7 with P4.7 million.
COA urged the DepEd to strictly comply with its guidelines and COA rules and regulations on the granting, liquidation and monitoring of cash advances and issuance of demand letters to accountable officers to pay their advances.
“In case of failure to comply, DepEd should implement the withholding of salaries or any money due to them, including appropriate legal sanctions pursuant to Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code for failure to render accounts,” the commission stated.
“After all the possible measures were undertaken to ascertain the details of the account and proven futile, [DepEd should] request authority to write off said accounts from the Commission on Audit, in accordance with COA Circular No. 97-001 dated February 5, 1997 and COA Circular No. 2016-005 dated December 19, 2016,” it said.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan, ordered the conduct of a lifestyle check among police officers.
“This would be made by the IMEG (Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group), together with IAS (Internal Affairs Service), so that we would be able to see what’s happening with our people now,” Cascolan said in a press briefing in Camp Crame on Friday.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the police force and other attached agencies under his office would cooperate with the task force that would go after perpetrators of corruption in government.
“We have carried out many reforms but we must continue them as there are still bad eggs who need to be removed from office. The program to get rid of them is continuous with the National Police Commission,” Año said in a mix of Filipino and English in a radio interview.
He said the interior department has been relentless in weeding out corruption even before the President issued the order.
“We have suspended many mayors and some have been removed from office due to corruption issues. We have a good collaboration with the Ombudsman and the Office of the President,” Año said.
In a recorded public address on Tuesday, Duterte said the Justice Department may prosecute and file charges against those involved in anomalies.
He added that the directive would be in effect until June 30, 2022, unless sooner lifted or revoked.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday welcomed the Department of Justice-led investigation into the alleged corrupt activities in the government bureaucracy.
“The directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to Secretary Menardo Guevarra to investigate allegations of corruption in the government is most welcome. Secretary Guevarra is an intelligent and decent public servant who is well-respected by his peers and colleagues,” Ombudsman Samuel Martires said.
“Given this partnership, there is absolutely no basis to detract or underestimate the laudable objectives of the President in creating the DOJ mega task force,” he added.
The Ombudsman and DOJ have been partners in the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council, he said.
“In any case, investigations conducted by the DOJ involving complaints of corruption are subject to the evaluation of the Ombudsman,” Martires added