December 10, 2022

The Commission on Audit has recommended to the city government of Baguio to submit a quarterly report of Covid-19-related donations the city has received to the state audit and the Office of the Civil Defense following a recent audit showing that some donations have not been accounted for.

In an audit observation memorandum (AOM) dated March 9, the COA-Cordillera said while it recognizes the list of donations received and how these were distributed, these were not consolidated in one report for easy monitoring.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, only the General Services Office submitted an aggregate amount of P13,891,150 of donations received while other offices claimed that no stocks were left as donations have been distributed three days after receipt.

The COA said had reports been submitted, aids and donations could have been properly accounted for and monitored. State auditors said absence of documents have precluded it from conducting timely evaluation of the use of aids and donations received by the city.

Documents for submission required by the COA are summary or list of donations received, distributed, and balances for in-kind donations; report on the receipt and use of cash donation; report on the receipt and distribution/issuance of donated relief goods; and report on the receipt and distribution of personal protective equipment.

The COA said reports of donations should have also been furnished the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council through the OCD but verification by the COA with the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office – the office delegated as response team, showed no reports.

Cash and check donations amounting to P3,244,711.85 could not be accounted as well as said amount was lumped as “trust liabilities-other payables,” instead of classifying the donations as “trust liabilities-Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund,” or “trust liabilities-various donors.”

The COA said it could not establish how the funds were used or distributed when these were classified as “trust liabilities,” undermining COA circular 2014-002, which set guidelines in the receipt and delivery of donations.

Data obtained by the Courier showed the Baguio Water District and 1966 Real Estate Corporation gave the biggest monetary donation of P1 million each, followed by XPCP Baguio, Amity Baguio, BFCCCI, BPHS with a total donation of P642,897.10, and a certain Rosario Lim with a donation worth P500,000.

To facilitate monitoring, the COA recommended to the city to maintain separate subsidiary ledgers labeled as “trust liabilities-DRRM fund,” for all cash donations amounting to P100,000 or more per donor per purpose, while those below P100,000 shall be grouped per purpose and posted in a separate subsidiary ledger labeled as “various donors.”

Last week, the CDRRMO reported that the city government has received P15.1M in kind and P8.2M in cash, check, and gift checks  from March 17, 2020 to March 31.

CMO Chief of Staff and CDRRMO action officer Felipe Puzon said P3.5M of the P8.2M was remitted to the City Treasurer’s Office while the remaining P4.7M was used for projects and other activities like the “Sampung piso para sa mamamayan ng Baguio, nutribun project, and the Baguio Kitchen Community Feeding Program, purchase of sacks of rice, grocery items for relief packs, technical supplies, burial assistance to families whose members died during the pandemic, delivery charges of donations and other incidental expenses.

Puzon said 13,512 relief packs were distributed to the city’s underprivileged families, daily wage earners, locally stranded individuals, senior citizens and persons with disabilities who were not included under the national government’s 4Ps program.

Also given gift packs were families of overseas Filipino workers whose members abroad lost their jobs due to the pandemic and some Baguio residents who do not have income.

Meanwhile, in-kind donations amounting to P15.1M like food packs, face shields and masks, medicines, hygiene kits, alcohol, aerosol boxes, test kits, and more, were distributed to local frontliners from various sectors and offices, hospitals, barangays, neighboring towns and Benguet province.

Puzon said the report was submitted to the COA and OCD. – Rimaliza A. Opiña with reports from PIO