CoA flags Yolanda funds for PCOO employees; National Museum’s poor management of artworks

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THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) flagged the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for non-liquidation of assistance funds for its 20 employees who were victims of typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which both hit the Visayas in 2013. In its 2018 annual audit report, CoA noted that the non-liquidation of the Yolanda funds deprived the victims of full financial assistance while one beneficiary did not receive her financial aid. The report said the Office of the President (OP) donated P1.37 million from the President’s Social Fund (PSF) to the PCOO in April 2015. The donation was distributed in two tranches. The state auditors said although the full amount was paid to beneficiaries as of August 2015, there was “poor monitoring” of the donations, which resulted to one employee not receiving her P15,000 financial aid for three years. CoA also noted that only the first tranche was released to the PCOO due to the non-fulfillment of the condition for the release of the second tranche, delaying the supposed P30,000 to P100,000 aid for house repairs of the beneficiaries. CoA also stated in the report that during its interview with the concerned PCOO officials and employees, they disclosed that “during the presidency’s transitional stage midyear of 2016, no proper turnover of official files and documents was done by the previous administration.” The auditing agency recommended that PCOO immediately release the P15,000 to the intended beneficiary from the first tranche and submit to the OP the liquidation report of the first tranche to release the remaining fund.

In the same report, COA called out the National Museum for its “inadequate” and “improper” management of artworks and archeological specimens. It said the museum has “unaccounted and undocumented” borrowed items from external sources, which violates Republic Act No. 8492 or the National Museum Act of 1998. The report indicated that various benefactors, private and government institutions, have lent 864 items to the National Museum’s Fine Arts Division and eight items to the Zoology Division from the University of Santo Tomas Museum. However, only nine of the 23 memoranda of agreements (MOA) were submitted to the Fine Arts section, while none was given to the Zoology Division before displaying the loaned art and historical pieces. “It was noted in the report of Fine Arts Division that there were works of arts being exhibited already but the MOA is either pending for signing or for renewal while Zoology Division was not able to provide any supporting documents,” CoA said. The state auditors also flagged the National Museum for its “unsubstantiated” report on museum collections loaned to government agencies and private institutions. The report showed that 12 art and archaeological pieces were loaned to churches, government agencies, and universities abroad but “no loan agreements or other supporting documentation were provided by the Management despite written requests of the Audit Team.” With these findings, the state auditors recommended that the National Museum “ensure that received artworks and specimens, whether purchased or donated, shall be initially accounted by the Property Custodian.” — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras