The Department of Education (DepEd) maintained that the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) on alleged deficiencies involving the department are “not yet conclusive.”
In a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 4, DepEd Spokesperson Michael Poa addressed the findings reported by COA in its audit report for DepEd in 2021 — in particular, the P2.4-B laptop purchase issue and P4.5-billion budget for the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BELCP) from 2020 to 2022.
“We are aware that some time in March 2022, the DepEd was in receipt of an Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) issued by COA,” Poa said. “What I know is that we already submitted the documentary requirements they are asking so we are just awaiting feedback from them,” he added.
In COA’s annual audit report on DepEd for 2021, it was noted that purchasing laptops amounting to P58,000 each has deprived more than 28,000 teachers of receiving the same benefit.
COA’s report also flagged DepEd’s “inadequacies” in the spending of its P4.5-billion budget for the BELCP.
Related to this, Poa said that the new leadership of DepEd “will look into what really happened then.”
Citing previous responses given by DepEd on the matter, he noted that there were “several instances” where there have been delays in procurement mainly due to lockdowns resulting from surges in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.
“Yung AOM is finding lang iyan (the AOM is just a finding), it doesn’t mean that it is conclusive so we, on the part of DepEd, we [have] already submitted the documentary requirements that they asked from us,” Poa said.
“Right now, we are looking into these AOMs which are just findings, they’re not conclusive so what the DepEd is doing is that we are responding to whatever COA wants us to respond,” he said.
After submitting the required documents, Poa said that DepEd is waiting for the feedback coming from the COA. “We will see kung ano ang [what the] final determination ng [of] COA and we will always work and cooperate with COA for the improvement of our processes here in DepEd,” he added.
As described in COA Circular 2009-006 (Prescribing the Use of Rules and Regulations on Settlement of Accounts), an AOM is a set of “deficiencies noted in the audit of accounts, operations or transactions requiring comments thereto and/or submission of documentary and other information requirements within a reasonable period.”
In 2019, former Education Leonor Briones called for reforms in the scope and policy of COA observations.
With AOMs regarded as “preliminary and non-conclusive” — since it still allows the audited agency to submit comments and documents — DepEd said then that “only after an evaluation of the submissions would an audit decision be made to whether allow or suspend a transaction.”