MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the failure of Philippine embassies and consulates to remit cash assistance intended for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families as well as for typhoon victims.
In its 2017 audit report on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the COA said a total of P9.776 million was received by foreign service posts around the world representing end-of-service benefits for deceased OFWs from their employers.
Government auditors said that in 2017, the consulate general in Jeddah received P3.787 million.
The total amount also included benefits for 2015 and prior years amounting to P5.988 million, which also remain unremitted by the embassies in Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Amman, Bangkok, Cairo, Doha, Islamabad, Manama, Riyadh and the consulate general in New York.
“The amounts were receipted by the concerned collecting officers for remittance to the HO (Home Office) through the OUMWA (Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs) which is responsible for the payment to the legal heirs of the deceased OFWs,” the COA said.
The report also said donations received by foreign service posts for typhoon victims and financial support for OFWs amounting to P947,049 were not remitted to Manila.
Donations for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009 are still with the consulate general in San Francisco and embassies in Berlin, Brussels, London, New Delhi, Beijing, Port Moresby and Tokyo.
Financial support for certain OFWs also remain with the consulate general in Jeddah and embassies in Buenos Aires and Santiago.
“The accumulated balance of the account per SL (subsidiary ledger) indicated substantial amount of unclaimed/unremitted benefits which accordingly deprived the beneficiaries of the much needed financial assistance,” the COA said.
The DFA told the COA, however, that all funds would be remitted for proper distribution to beneficiaries.
“Management commented that a directive will be circularized to all concerned posts to remit all funds received pertaining to end of service benefits, donations for typhoon victims and financial support for OFWs,” the COA said.
Meanwhile, government auditors also questioned unliquidated cash advances of officers and employees of the DFA amounting to P107.364 million.
“Most of the unliquidated cash advances were granted way back 1970s-1990s and majority of the officers and employees are no longer in the service, with some known to have passed away,” the COA said.
Included in the questioned unliquidated cash advances are for official travel of DFA personnel amounting to P29.637 million, official travel of non-DFA employees amounting to P1.488 million, operating expenses worth P23.377 million and living quarters allowance worth P20.062 million.
The DFA agreed to direct the officers and employees to liquidate their cash advances within the prescribed period and send demand letters to personnel with outstanding accounts, according to government auditors.