By Ben Rosario
The two chambers of Congress did not allocate five percent of their respective budget for Gender and Development (GAD) programs, thus, have both violated the law mandating the implementation of gender-related activities within their mandate and operations.
The Commission on Audit made the observation in the recently-released 2018 annual audit report for the two legislative chambers.
In the Lower House audit report, COA called on congressmen to initiate “house cleaning” by disposing of “damaged, valueless and insect-infested documents” that have accumulated in various offices.
“The establishment of a GAD Focal Point System (GFPS) as required by Section 36 (b) of RA 9710, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Women, was not implemented by the House,” the COA said.
Auditors said the Lower House must comply with the pertinent provisions of the law, especially the allocation of five percent of the chamber’s total appropriation for each year to finance gender rights awareness and development programs.
“We recommended that Management complies with the pertinent provisions of RA 9710 on the creation of the GFPS and formulation of the agency-wide GPB with a budget of at least five percent of the HREP’s total appropriations, as provided for in Section 30 of the General Provisions of RA 10964,” said the COA.
In a similar annual audit report, COA revealed that the Senate “was not able to comply” with the allocation requirement for GAD activities as mandated under RA 10964.
“We observed that for the calendar year (CY) 2018, the Senate had allocated only 0.08 percent of its total appropriations for GAD budget and spent only 44 percent thereof,” auditors reported.
Only P5 million was set aside by the Senate for its GAD activities but only P2.18 million or 44 percent was actually spent to implement a GAD program.
The Senate management admitted that the 2018 budget for GAD was true “very minimal” as compared to the total budget of the legislative chamber.
“However, this is essentially because 5% of the total budget appropriation of the Senate which is equivalent to P291,387,550.00 is simply far too much and beyond the absorptive capacity of the Senate to spend and utilize on GAD projects, activities and programs,” the management added.
Meanwhile, audit examiners reminded the Lower House to comply with provisions of Republic Act 9470, otherwise known as “An Act to Strengthen the System of Management and Administration of Archival Records, Establishing for the Purpose the National Archives of the Philippines and for Other Purposes.”
“Damaged, valueless and insect-infested records which are not subject of investigations, complaints and/or legal cases continue to be kept in custody beyond their required periods of retention thereby risking documents that are in good condition to harmful elements,” auditors stated.
“Apparently, the administration of prior year’s records was overlooked by Management which resulted in the accumulation of documents beyond their legitimate retention periods,” they added.