MANILA - Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Joel Villanueva explained his side on allegations that the agency had "ghost scholars" in 2011 using funds sourced from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The Commission on Audit (COA) earlier said it found irregularities in TESDA's spending of the P1.1 billion sourced from the DAP, which was recently declared by the Supreme Court as partially unconstitutional.
COA said 61 scholars under the DAP-funded TESDA program seemed to be non-existent, noting that they attended multiple training courses held simultaneously.
''As to reports about the 61 alleged ghost scholars out of the 210,000 scholars of TESDA, we found out that some are already working abroad, while others could not be traced because they have changed contact numbers,'' Villanueva explained.
Villanueva said TESDA already clarified this issue with the COA and the latter accepted the explanation.
''Amid its findings, COA did not issue any notice of disallowance or notice of suspension for this spending,'' he said.
''We are prepared to present documents when necessary to show that this fund has reaped gains for the beneficiaries."
Villanueva said P500 million of the fund was allocated for TESDA's scholarship program implemented by the BPO-IT (Business Process Outsourcing-Information Technology) sector, through the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP).
The scholarship projects implemented with the BPAP yielded a total of 65,048 graduates, and an employment rate of 70.7 percent (45,961), Villanueva said.
P600 million of the fund, on the other hand, was used to support the skills requirement in four priority sectors – agriculture/agri-business; tourism, retirement, health and wellness; general infrastructure; and electronics/semi-conductor.
The projects with the other priority sectors produced a total of 73,632 graduates, and an employment rate of 60 percent (44,179), the TESDA chief said.
Meanwhile, Villanueva said only P38 million of the fund, not P109 million as COA reported, was unitilized and already brought back to the National Treasury.
He said among the reasons for the failure to use the P38 million were the delay in the processes of some private sector partners, the dropout rate, and the inability to fully implement scholarship programs in some areas because of calamities.
Villanueva said TESDA has already ordered schools that failed to implement the scholarship program to return the money allotted to them. TESDA also ordered the closure of some schools that were found to have irregularities in their technical vocational education and training programs.