COA finds use of GAD funds for scholarships improper

By: Felipe V. Celino

ROXAS CITY, Capiz – The Commission on Audit (COA) noted irregularities in the disbursement of Gender and Development (GAD) funds for the scholarship of some 4,071 students by the past administration.

In its audit observation memorandum (AOM) dated Nov 29, 2019, the COA noted that the disbursement of P1.8 million in GAD funds lacks a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the provincial government of Capiz, the schools, and the student grantees.

Hence, details such as duration of providing scholarship, obligations of the grantor and grantee cannot be reasonably ascertained, the AOM read.

The provincial government of Capiz granted new scholarships to 2,037 college students but the criteria and qualifications for the determination of grantees were not established.

“In view of the foregoing, in order for a disbursement to be properly chargeable to GAD funds, the same should address properly identified GAD relevant issues in relation to the grantee population,” the COA added.

It also noted that additional 2,037 scholarship grants brought the total number of scholars to 4,071 enrolled in private schools. It also appears that many grantees were not economically deprived since their respective families are able to send them to private schools.

“We take note of the fact that not all courses are being offered or catered by public schools. That is factually correct, however, out of 2,363 students enrolled in private schools, 1,879 students took courses that are being offered in a public university located in the province of Capiz,” the COA added.

The COA recommended that the capitol should set up and regularly update its GAD database and sex-disaggregated data in order to properly program and implement its GAD related budget and set a clear guidelines in the grant and release of its scholarship program in order to identify its proper funding source. Thereafter, a corresponding MOA should be executed by the parties.

Other recommendations laid down by the COA are:

-refrain from releasing funds while respective requirements or guidelines have not yet been set;

-management should regularly evaluate its financial capacity in maintaining the program and its effect to other services that also needs funding allocation from the provincial government; and

-utmost prudence should be exercised in handling government funds and resources and limitations/requirements set by laws and regulations have to be properly observed.

COA supervising auditor Walter F. Menez asked Gov. Esteban Evan Contreras, Vice Gov. James Magbanua, Provincial Administrator Edwin Monares, lawyer and GAD focal person Esteban Angeles Contreras and Provincial Accountant Ernie Arcenas to comment within 15 days after receiving the audit observation.