'Fund in question' used for scholarship, livelihood programs
By Ma. Cristina Arayata / Philippine News Agency
TESDA Secretary Isidro Lapeña (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)
MANILA – Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary Isidro Lapeña said Tuesday the "allocation in question" amounting to about PHP160 million in the latest Commission on Audit (COA) report was used for various livelihood and scholarship programs.
State auditors reportedly questioned TESDA's transfer of PHP160 million to its regional offices for the implementation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) projects.
In a statement, Lapeña clarified that TESDA chairs the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood, and Employment Cluster (PRLEC), as well as the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC) - 12 (Soccsksargen) and is actively involved in the NTF-ELCAC's various programs.
"The allocation in question were spent for various scholarship and livelihood programs for the beneficiaries, such as: members of the communist terrorist groups who decided to return to the government’s fold, residents (of) various geographically isolated and disadvantaged communities, including indigenous peoples in far-flung areas of the country. This fund in question was used in order for them to live a normal life again," his statement read.
Lapeña said of the PHP160,083,401.61 in the COA report, PHPP147,383,401.61 was released to the regional offices.
The funds, he said, were sourced out from the TESDA centrally-managed funds, specifically from TESDA scholarship funds as reflected in its FY 2020 GAA budget.
About PHP12.7 million of the PHP160 million was taken from the PHP45.9 million budget for the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 70 allocated by the Department of Budget and Management, which is intended for the operating expenses of 17 regions.
EO 70 created the NTF-ELCAC that institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach in obtaining exclusive and sustainable peace as an effective solution against communist terrorists.
The COA report said the fund transfers are "highly questionable" due to lack of legal basis and the absence of appropriate guidelines as to how the fund shall be used.
TESDA has existing protocols to ensure proper and lawful disbursement of funds and has submitted all the documents to COA to support the disbursements, Lapeña said.
The TESDA chief said they are currently coordinating with COA to resolve the issue and will release a detailed report soon. (PNA)