December 7, 2022

The Cordillera office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been included in the 2020 report of the Commission on Audit as one of the five offices that have not fully expended the funds for beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program.
The report states DSWD field offices in the Cordillera and regions 2, 7, 8, and 11 reported an unused amount totaling P780,712,572 due to the inclusion of unqualified beneficiaries in the masterlist, and consequentially, depriving 139,300 families who are qualified for the program.
The unused amount for SAP in the Cordillera is P78,102,612, which could have benefited 14,200 families.
COA said given the scarcity of resources for the government’s Covid-19 response, there should have been a proper evaluation of target beneficiaries through coordination with local government units and proper and efficient validation that could maximize the number of qualified beneficiaries of the SAP.
To maximize funds allotted for those displaced by the pandemic, the COA recommended there should be an additional list of qualified beneficiaries in case the masterlist submitted is found to contain ineligible beneficiaries.
The COA said several memorandum circulars setting the guidelines on who may avail of the emergency cash subsidy funded under the Bayanihan 1 and 2 have been released.
A memorandum circular was also issued for additional beneficiaries who previously were not listed by the LGUs.
The list was supposed to have been crossmatched with available databases by the DSWD Information and Communications Technology Management Service group to ensure there is no duplication of beneficiaries. Yet, regional field offices were still unable to fully disburse the SAP despite the crossmatching, the COA said.
The COA also discovered as of Dec. 31, 2020, a total of P848.243M cash advances in the Cordillera and regions 1, 2, 4A, 4B, 5, 9, 10, and 12 have not been liquidated despite the timeframe prescribed in DSWD Memorandum Circular 14, s. 2020 and COA Circular 97-002 dated Feb. 10, 1997, resulting in exposure of government funds to possible loss or misappropriation.
For the Cordillera, the remaining amount to be liquidated is P10,759,000 out of the P404,569,000 cash advance released for the region.
Paragraph 11 of DSWD MC 14 states liquidation and refund must be completed and submitted from the last day of the distribution of emergency subsidy while in the COA rules and regulations on the grant, use and liquidation of cash advances, should be reported as soon as the purpose of which it was given has been served.
The COA said delay in liquidation within the recommended time frame casts doubt on the proper implementation of the SAP and exposes the funds to possible loss or misuse.
The delay in the liquidation due to the failure of the DSWD to monitor and strictly comply with COA Circular 97-002 and Section 89 of Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code also prevented the timely audit of transactions and immediate correction of deficiencies, the COA added.
The COA recommended for DSWD to assess the scheme adopted to expedite the distribution of the cash assistance to the affected individual and/or families brought about by the health crisis and remind all concerned officers and employees to strictly comply with the laws on the liquidation of cash advances.
The Courier tried to get the comment of the DSWD-Cordillera but as of press time, the current regional director has not been cleared to grant an interview. – Rimaliza A. Opiña