Bohol LGUs fail to liquidate P154-M earthquake rehab funds

Published August 20, 2020, 7:13 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit (COA) blamed the Bohol provincial government for the non-liquidation of the Bohol Earthquake Assistance Fund by majority of the 27 localities that received various amounts.    

In the 2019 annual audit report for Bohol province, COA said the failure to liquidate could be attributed to the absence of policies and procedures on liquidation requirements.      

Auditors also noted that there was likewise no clear policy or procedures within the Provincial Accounting Office “for the handling and recording of liquidation reports submitted by the implementing LGUs.”      

State auditors said such absence of policies and procedures deprived the provincial government the “checks and balances that naturally follow” for the proper accounting of the fund transfers.      

Demand letters asking for the liquidation documents have also not been sent to LGUs that received the funds for rehabilitation assistance for areas devastated by the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 2013.       

Reacting to the audit observation, the provincial accounting office explained that while it failed to send formal notices or demand letters to the concerned LGUs, it nonetheless regularly issues Fund Control Ledger or Advances Summary to LGUs.      

In the same audit report, COA also chided the provincial government for the delayed implementation of the Global Environment Facility-Marine Protected Areas (GEF-MPA) sub-projects.     

The state audit agency said a total P14,744,008 or “2,100 percent of the total funds” received by the province have not been utilized, thus, provisions of the Implementation Management Agreement between the Department of Agriculture and Bohol were not executed.     

Auditors said the project  was financed by a loan assistance from the World Bank, with portion of the fund granted through the Global Environment Facility (GEF).      

Bohol reportedly received the funds as early as February 20, 2018.       

“The delay in the implementation of the I-REAP GEF MPA sub-projects prevented the achievement of the GEF sub-project’s objectives within the period,” COA said.      

The audit agency also reported: “With the delayed implementation, the fishermen were deprived of the benefits that may have been derived from the project.”      

Reacting to the COA observation, the provincial government explained that funds were not spent because of the failure of bidding for the contract covering the project.