COA to FTI: 'Where did the 2020 Taal donations go?'

Published July 2, 2021, 5:41 PM

by Ben Rosario

While Taal Volcano is acting anew following a short-lived phreatomagmatic eruption that triggered massive evacuation from nearby localities, the Commission on Audit aired serious doubts that displaced residents of a similar explosion last year had received the donations the Food Terminal, Inc. said it distributed then.

COA, in its 2020 annual audit report for the FTI, which provides accessible and modern facilities for agricultural producers, revealed that the state-owned firm disbursed P465,306 for the purchase of goods to be distributed to Batangas and Cavite folk affected by the January, 2020 explosion of Taal.

“The expenses amounting to P465,306 for donation for the victims of the Taal volcano eruption in January 2020 lack supporting documents, thereby, affecting the propriety and validity of the transactions,” COA stated.

State auditors aired suspicions that the donations for Taal victims may have not reached the actual beneficiaries. Instead, the purchased goods may have been diverted to typhoon victims last November, 2020.

COA reported: “Further, it could not be determined if the donations for the Taal volcano eruption actually reached the intended beneficiaries since in November 2020 even if no additional purchases were made, donations were granted to Super Typhoon Rolly victims.”

“Both donations were not supported with corresponding Acknowledgement Receipt/proof of receipt of the donated goods by the beneficiaries or their representatives (LGU, risk management office etc.),” the state audit agency disclosed.

It also noted that as of the end of the year, there remained “inventories on hand”, adding that these could be exposed to “expiry and deterioration if not immediately disposed.”

In response to the adverse audit findings, the FTI management clarified that it had indeed originally intended to donate goods to for Taal volcano eruption victims during the first quarter of 2020.

“However, after the FTI Board passed the Resolution approving the donation in January 2020, they were prevented from going to Batangas to deliver the goods purchased because of the limitation imposed by the lockdown in March, 2020,” said the FTI management headed by president and CEO Ariel Buenaventura.

The FTI also assured audit examiners that expenses originally intended for Taal Volcanot victims, were duly supported by required documentary requirements.