December 5, 2022

The Commission on Audit (COA) has commended two municipalities in Mountain Province for their wise spending of the Covid-19 funds, but called out four towns for their lapses in disbursing the same.

In its report in relation to disbursement of the Covid-19 funds, the COA lauded Sabangan and Sadanga towns for efficiently spending their allocation under the Bayanihan Grant to Cities and Municipalities (BGCM).

The national government earlier released the BGCM, which is equivalent to a one-month Internal Revenue Allotment share of local government units, to boost the LGUs’ capacity to respond to the pandemic.

For Sabangan, the COA said the LGU has efficiently disbursed its P5,626,877 grant by purchasing personal protective equipment; equipment, reagents, and kits for Covid-19 testing;  medicines and vitamins; hospital equipment and supplies; constructing, repairing, or renting spaces to accommodate Covid-19 patients; and relief goods for affected households, among other things.

“The timely delivery of the (procurement plan for project/program/activity) made them relevant and responsive to the needs of target beneficiaries and showed efficiency of the municipal government towards the achievement of the BGCM objectives,” the COA report, uploaded in the audit body’s website, stated.

The COA also took note of Sabangan’s initiative in returning the unspent P4,528.60 to the Bureau of Treasury.

“The amount was returned in October 2020 because the LGU was late in knowing that the deadline for the liquidation of the grant was lifted,” the COA added.

The COA observed the same efficient spending for Sadanga, which received P5,720,772 BGCM allocation that was also used to purchase Covid-19-related items and build/rent facilities, among other things, in response to the pandemic.

“The prompt implementation and use of the appropriated funds resulted in the delivery of essential items or needs that addressed the immediate concerns of constituents,” the COA said.

On the other hand, the COA called out Barlig, Bauko, Natonin, and Tadian for their lapses in the BGCM funds disbursement.

In Barlig, the COA said procurements made on medicines, equipment, supplies, and materials charged against the BGCM worth P1,717,021.75 lacked supporting documents, such as omnibus sworn statements – a document needed for emergency procurement – and mayor’s permits of entities from which the LGU bought Covid-19-related supplies.

The COA added the LGU failed to prepare a list for the cash and in-kind donations it received from government entities and the private sector and also failed to report how these were spent and distributed.

In Bauko, the COA called out the LGU for the incomplete documents in the purchase of equipment, medicines, and supplies worth P4,736,810.67; undated purchase orders for the same items worth P2,708,955; and  failure to undertake procurement procedures for the purchase of goods worth P1,782,145, all funded under the BGCM.

In Natonin, the COA advised the LGU to rectify its actions in realigning P3.6 million worth of programs and activities funded under the BGCM.

The COA said the purchase of various Covid-19-related supplies for a hospital should have been done through the passage of a supplemental budget and not through mere augmentation by charging the same to the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses.

In Tadian, the COA noted various lapses on how the LGU disbursed the BGCM funds.

These include incomplete documents in the procurement of medicines, equipment, supplies and materials worth P5,207,245.80; non-submission of advance copies of contract for the construction of a Covid-19 facility; incomplete documents on the disbursement of Covid-19 hazard pay worth P1,210,000; and unnecessary procurement procedures, among other lapses.

The COA has advised the LGUs to submit the lacking documents in the disbursement of BGCM funds and the reports on how the cash and in-kind donations in relation to the Covid-19 response were disbursed and distributed.

It also advised the LGUs to rectify the other lapses they committed in the disbursement of the BCGM funds.

Mountain Province and six of its 10 towns are the first LGUs in the Cordillera so far with audit reports uploaded in the COA website. – Jane B. Cadalig