COA: DOT’s P507 million spending lacked supporting documents

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2019 01:42 PM | Updated as of Aug 29 2019 09:09 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Various offices of the Department of Tourism spent a total of P507.304 million despite lack of supporting documents, according to the latest report on the agency by the Commission on Audit.

Government auditors noted in the 2018 report on the DOT that a big chunk of the expenditure, P484.160 million, was spent by the central office on the following disbursements:

- P292.916 million for Association of Southeast Asian Nations 2017 convention not supported with complete documentation

- P153.893 million for video materials without copies as proof of production and airing

- P30.346 million financial assistance with supporting memorandum of agreement and utilization report

- P5.729 million cash advances for foreign travel without certificates of appearance and reports on benefits of the trip to the DOT

- P1.274 million payments of inventories without official receipts and recipients

“Non-submission of the necessary documents affects the validity and propriety of the disbursements made and an indication of weakness in the internal control over disbursements of Central and Regional Offices,” the COA report said.

Also included in the expenses of DOT regional offices was P80,000 for a professional fee for the conduct of Japanese and Mandarin language courses without pertinent documents, P209,300 honoraria for a resource person, P586,200 for vehicle rentals.

The auditors noted that corresponding notices of suspension may be issued for the questioned disbursements.

The DOT management told the audit team that they will be submitting the necessary documents. 

"(We) will conduct a thorough review of the findings contained in the recently published report of the Commission on Audit," the DOT said in a statement.

"Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has directed all officials of the department at the central and regional offices to prepare pertinent documentation and responses to comply with the requirements of the COA."

The audit report also said P9.097 million disbursements “contravened some fo the existing government rules and regulations or deviated from the proper standard process or procedures on disbursements.”

Among those noted in various DOT offices were P918,935.88 expenses on 6 foreign trips where the 2-person per trip limit as stated in a DOT department order was violated, purchase of P3.579 million gift checks from the Land Bank of the Philippines as promotional materials, P1.898 million for van rentals despite having to service vehicles and other modes of transportation, P230,741.25 excessive hotel costs, P116,511.05 on unnecessary meals of DOT employees during staff meetings and preparations for seminars and other activities.

The DOT, meantime, said that they will adhere to the recommendations made by the audit team such as strict compliance on the allowable number of staff during foreign trips, submission of justifications for hotel accommodations found to be excessive, stopping the use of gift checks as promotional materials, requiring refunds of other expenses, discontinuing the provision of meals during regular functions of employees and officials, among others.

“Management assured the audit team that they would comply with the recommendations and apply the prescribed rates of travel allowances in all its official travels,” the COA report noted. 

A copy of the audit report was received by the office of Puyat on June 27, 2019.

The full report on the DOT can be downloaded from the COA website.