MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has questioned the P1.57 million worth of travel expenses made by members and staff of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) from 2019 to 2020, as well as reimbursement of movie tickets, with some "repeatedly done on similar dates."
In the 2020 annual audit report on the MTRCB, government auditors noted that claims for expenses shall be supported with travel itineraries, appropriate movie tickets that indicate details about the cinema, as well as the inspection findings.
Board members and their deputies are mandated not just to review materials, but also to inspect cinemas and other similar establishments.
“Our verification of the various transactions covering the months of May 2019 to March 2020 showed that claims totaling P1,570,000 were paid despite the insufficiency of supporting documents,” the audit report said.
It stated that the MTRCB management agreed to the COA recommendation that the agency’s accountant should ensure that all claims are supported with complete documentation before payments are made.
The Commission also noted that a total amount of P753,000 was incurred as "monitoring expenses" repeatedly done on similar dates.
Repetitive visits were done to the same movie and cinema even if the number of movies shown in cinemas needing review and inspection have significantly increased, COA said.
The audit report also stated that reimbursements were made for P46,000 worth of regular cinema tickets, which was “unacceptable” because of the impossibility to prove who actually used the tickets.
Around P6,000 worth of tickets were also reimbursed 5 months to 1 year after use, beyond the prescribed period of every 25th day of the month.
The Commission stressed that MTRCB members and its deputies, together with one companion, are allowed to enter cinemas in the performance of their monitoring and inspection duties without having to pay admission fees.
But the MTRCB management told the auditors that there were some exceptions such as when surprise visits are done.
“The surprise inspection done by the BMs (board members) can effectively determine if the movie-houses are operating properly. There are times where violations were found during the surprise inspection and most of the time, this procedure is effective since the movie-houses are not aware that they are being inspected and visited by MTRCB Deputy Agents,” the report noted.
The government auditors however reiterated that the MTRCB guidelines be revisited by agency officials.
A copy of the report, which was sent to MTRCB Chairperson Maria Rachel Arenas on June 10, 2021, was also uploaded to the COA website.
Last year, the MTRCB drew flak after it urged senators to craft a policy that would allow the agency to "regulate" content on international streaming site Netflix and other similar providers.
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