MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has questioned the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority's (TESDA) use of more than P10 million in funds for training programs that had fictitious scholars, teachers and training centers.
In its 2017 audit report on TESDA, the state audit agency told current Director General Guiling Mamondiong that funds were apparently misused after thorough validations were conducted on two Technical Vocational Institutions (TVIs): AMA Computer College (AMACC) and the Technivoc Institute Corporation (TIC).
The COA noted that TESDA Manila paid P9.3 million to AMACC Sta. Mesa Campus in 2015 for training on Java computer programming language involving 310 scholars.
Auditors were not able to validate 195 of the 310 scholars for various reasons such as incorrect phone numbers provided.
Some 77 students, meanwhile, revealed they were regular students of AMACC Fairview Campus and did not attend a separate TESDA scholarship training.
There were also overlapping schedules and dates of trainings conducted by the same instructor.
“TESDA and the TVI asserted that while the TWSP (Training for Work Scholarship Program) scholars trained by AMACC were maybe regular students who afforded the tuition, they can also be qualified as scholars for the computer course,” the COA said.
But government auditors noted that even so, the scholars were not assessed, and this may have deprived other qualified beneficiaries.
“Besides, AMACC collected tuition from the students who were unaware they were listed as scholars,” the COA said.
AMACC consequently refunded P7.8 million on July 11, 2017 and P1.5 million on April 13, 2018 but noted that the former school director was to blame for the fund misuse.
“The AMACC Manila campus, represented by the AMAES (AMA Education System) president, had no objection to the COA observations and recommendations and assured to look into the activities of one of their schools," the COA said.
"The former school director who was knowledgeable with the TWSP trainings during the period subject of the audit is no longer connected with AMA, having been terminated by the AMACC as a result of the COA findings,” the COA said.
The TIC, meantime, received P1.471 million in TESDA funds for institution-based and mobile trainings for 270 scholars in 2016. But upon verification, state auditors found that 16 scholars were confirmed to have not attended the trainings while one of the trainers was also listed as a scholar.
Barangay officials in Tondo, Sampaloc and Santa Cruz in Manila also told auditors that trainings were not held in their barangays.
The COA also found out that the TIC does not physically exist in its given address, which turned out to be the site of one Getz Hotel.
“The absence of a notice, a signage or signboard of TIC with [the] TESDA logo within the vicinity of the hotel so that interested students or scholars can come and inquire further confirmed the non-existence of TIC in that place,” the COA said.
In a letter sent by the TIC to TESDA Manila, it claimed that the hotel security guards and receptionists who spoke with the audit team were “new ones” and that lectures were actually conducted at the hotel and not in the barangays.
The TIC also submitted names and numbers of 37 scholars but upon re-validation by government auditors, only 6 confirmed that they attended TIC trainings while one only underwent assessment but attended bartender training in another institution.
“As such, the attendance of these scholars is evidently doubtful,” the COA said.
The COA told TESDA management to conduct regular validations of scholars, require TVIs to present additional documentary evidence and review the accreditation of institutions to ensure that public funds meant for deserving scholars are used properly.