COA flags National Youth Commission over funds used for ELCAC support

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2022 10:14 PM

MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the National Youth Commission (NYC) for its inappropriate use of funds worth P651,999.72 for the government's anti-communist program.

In the 2021 annual audit report on the NYC, government auditors noted that the amount spent for “ELCAC”, which refers to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, were for salaries of three employees with the official designation “Presidential Staff Officer 1”. 

The report noted that the funds were part of the Sangguniang Kabataan Mandatory and Continuing Training Fund (SKMTF) which should be used for capacity-building activities for the youth sector under the General Appropriations Fund of 2021.

The training program must include components such as cultural history and political systems, nation-building and capacity-building on leadership and transparency.

But the auditors noted that the workers performed tasks related to ELCAC, which is the nationwide approach of the government to defeat the local communist terrorist group and obtain sustainable and inclusive peace.

“The said program was determined to be not related to the SK mandatory and continuing training program nor among its program components," the audit report said.

"As there were no funds issued for implementing ELCAC activities, it would appear that the Agency is defrauding the government by using funds for a different purpose other than that which intended,” it added.

Among the tasks of the employees were “ELCAC cyberspace journalism” and “cyberspace league mobile radio program”.

The auditors noted that the identified tasks in the contract as well as reported accomplishments of the employees were mostly related to ELCAC and did not include those enumerated under Republic Act No. 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan Act.

The salaries of the employees were therefore deemed “inappropriately charged” to the SKMCTF, according to the audit report.

The NYC told the auditors that as a member agency of the ELCAC, it is supporting the directive of the President by including anti-communist orientation as “ride-on” topic for trainings.

“As a member agency to the ELCAC, it is NYC’s commitment to encourage the youth to be conscious of the deceptive recruitment of the communist front organizations which target participants are the SK,” the NYC explained.

State auditors also said that the P2.061-million disbursement by the NYC for the payment of mental health and psycho-social services provided by 40 youth volunteers hired as health care and social work personnel in Marawi City were inappropriate.

As part of the Task Force Bangon Marawi, it was noted that the NYC, as an attached agency of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, was identified as a member of the Sub-Committee on Security, Peace and Order.

Among the tasks of the personnel were conducting programs for the youth affected by the Marawi Siege in 2017 and assisting the designated midwife in the area on an immunization program.

“Clearly, these services are not in line with the role of NYC under the Sub-Committee on Security, Peace and Order of the TFBM, nor are these related to the mandated functions of the Agency,” the audit report said.

The NYC, however, stressed that the youth were both victims of the Marawi siege because their families were displaced, and participants because some of them were also part of the extremist group.

“This assessment confirms that youth concerns in conflict situations cut across various areas or priorities such as health, education and value for peace,” the NYC told the auditors.

As a rejoinder, the auditors told the NYC management to justify their expenses related to ELCAC and the Marawi siege as they also urged the commission to refrain from using their funds for other purposes in compliance with the provisions of the the General Appropriations Act of 2021.

A copy of the report was received by NYC Chairperson Ronald Cardema on May 16, 2022.

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