August 20, 2022 | 00:00
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has reported to the Election Commission (Comelec) more than 671.473 million pesos in unliquidated cash advances from its agents, officials and special disbursed employees.
In its 2021 annual audit report on Comelec, the COA said the electoral body continued to issue additional cash advances to its agents, civil servants and special disbursing employees despite the non-liquidation or settlement of their advances. foregoing, in violation of Presidential Executive Order (PD) 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.
The COA said this resulted in the accumulation of unliquidated cash advances, which amounted to P671.473 million as of November 30, 2021.
The breakdown of the COA showed that there were 2,895 officers responsible for the electoral body who had not yet cleared cash advances, of which 2,571 were special disbursing officers with a total unliquidated balance of 492.778 million. pesos and 324 were civil servants and employees with a total unliquidated balance of 178,696 million pesos.
The COA said the audit team’s review of Comelec’s accounts revealed that 496 of the 2,895 responsible officers had received additional cash advances totaling 90.5 million pesos “despite non-liquidation or non-settlement of previous advances of funds granted to them”.
The COA reminded Comelec that under Article 89 of PD 1445, “a cash advance must be declared and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was granted has been achieved”.
The auditing organization added that Section 89 of PD 1445 as well as COA Circular No. 97-002 states that no additional cash advance will be granted to a civil servant or employee unless his previous cash advance has not been settled or accounted for.
In the same audit report, the COA also reminded Comelec to remit to the National Treasury a total of 310.789 million pesos in recovery of service charges.
The COA said the unpaid amount included fees for voter certification, authentication and replacement of voter ID card, and certification of true copy of voter registration record, among others.
The COA noted that the voting body mistakenly credited the collections to its trust fund instead of remitting the amount to the Office of the Treasury (BTr), in violation of PD 1445.
In a response, Comelec said its Accounting Division will determine the amount to be remitted to BTr after reviewing and verifying the outstanding balance of receipts to date.
Meanwhile, the COA also called out Comelec for its failure to return a total of 208.176 million pesos it received from various local government units (LGUs) for conducting plebiscites “notwithstanding completion of the projects”.
“The plebiscites corresponding to these transfers of funds have already been conducted; however, unused balances thereof have not been returned to the affected LGUs, contrary to the settlement quoted above,” the COA said.
The COA said that of the total unused balance, 55% or 115.314 million pesos related to remittances received in 2020 and previous years and 45% or 92.863 million pesos related to the balance from the Palawan plebiscite held on March 13, 2021. .