COA finds irregularities in DOLE's cash aid distribution for displaced workers in Pampanga

Published May 19, 2022, 2:53 PM

by Seth Cabanban

The Commission on Audit, on Monday, May 16, flagged the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) “Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers” (TUPAD) financial assistance program for irregularities in its distribution.

The Commission on Audit (COA) logo (Taken from MANILA BULLETIN)

As part of the TUPAD financial distribution to displaced workers, the DOLE Regional Office (RO) III gave Pampanga P91,182,000 for the “ayuda” (financial assistance) program. Specifically, the subsidy was to be distributed among 21,710 beneficiaries at P4,200 each.

The audit body’s summary report listed three irregularities, namely:

“(A) payment of grant to unauthorized claimants due to unreliable masterlist of beneficiaires.”

“(B) non-receipt of financial assistance by the beneficiaries or receipt of less than the amount stated in the DO [Department Orders],”

“(C) incomplete and deficient documents contrary to pertinent Department Order of DOLE relative to the implementation of Bayanihan I or RA [Republic Act] 11469, thereby casting doubt on the propriety and/or validity of the financial assistance granted to the beneficiaries of the said program.”

One notable finding by the COA was that payment meant for 35 beneficiaries residing in the Magalang Municipality–totalling about P147,000–had been claimed by one representative who was not an immediate family member of the 35 aforementioned.

As per the DOLE’s Department Orders (DO) 219, section 2.b, only immediate family members were eligible to act as a representative claimant.

“Personal confirmation of beneficiaries from the Municipality of Magalang revealed that of the 25 beneficiaries, 15 confirmed receipt while ten of them did not actually receive the financial assistance,” the COA report added.

Furthermore, out of the 21,710 beneficiaries included in the masterlist, around 5,012 had the same names, birthdates, contact numbers, type of ID, and ID numbers.

About 2,288 beneficiaries had shared contact numbers; 2,638 had the same type of ID with the same ID number indicating that 1,319 ID’s and numbers were used twice; while 86 beneficiaries were found to have been 43 persons only, meaning that they may have received the P4,200 twice.

Five beneficiaries were even confirmed to have received the P4,200 twice.

The COA thus made several recommendations: that the Provincial Treasurer’s Office ensure that only authorized claimants be eligible to receive the ayuda; and that the Provincial Government investigate the claims of excess,. repeat payments and to address the deficiencies in the distribution.