MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has asked the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to justify its expenses amounting to P4.815 million in 2019 which state auditors said were mostly spent in activities conducted in high-end hotels and restaurants.
In the 2019 audit on the NCIP, state auditors noted that P3,835,897.50 were spent in 2018, and P979,695.93 in 2019 for meals and accommodations for various programs and activities of the agency in Region 10.
“It was observed that the said activities were mostly conducted at high-end hotels and restaurants where the food and accommodation was relatively high compared to other alternative venues,” the COA said.
According to the COA report, the NCIP management agreed to the recommendations of auditors that its administrative officers should submit justifications on why almost all activities were held in costly hotels and restaurants either within or outside Cagayan De Oro City.
The NCIP told the auditors nonetheless that its Region 10 office holds events in places where the participants are mostly located.
“It assured the audit team that they shall strictly observe prudence on the use of government funds by adhering to pertinent laws, rules and regulations,” the NCIP management told state auditors.
The COA report said the NCIP did not adopt austerity measures contrary to the provisions of Administrative Order No. 6 of President Rodrigo Duterte, ensuring that no irregular, unnecessary, extravagant, excessive and unconscionable expenses shall be incurred by government.
The state auditors emphasized Section 33 of COA Circular No. 2012-003, which provides guidelines for the prevention of similar unnecessary and extravagant expenditures in government.
The COA also noted illegal disbursements of the NCIP in Region 11 amounting to P286,759, which includes those for meals for a retirement ceremony for 2 employees. It said the funds were spent not for their intended purposes.
The NCIP management told the auditors that justifications for the deficiencies will be submitted by focal persons of the agency.
The NCIP, mandated to protect the country's indigenous peoples, also failed to utilize a total allocation of P9.648 million, which COA attributed to poor planning of its programs and activities.
The COA report noted that the NCIP did not have ample time to implement projects which include research activities for the profiling, formulation and recognition of ancestral domains.
But the NCIP management told the audit team that the unused funds were for the payment of accountabilities for the previous years, and they were not able to spend the whole amount because of incomplete documentation and late submission of vouchers.
The COA, in a letter dated Sept. 15, transmitted its audit report to NCIP Chairperson Allen Capuyan.