By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras, Reporter

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) said the Department of Justice (DoJ) claimed a “huge amount of traveling expenses” abroad in 2018 amounting to P7.8 million.

According to its annual audit, P5.5 million was spent on travels by the same people in 23 meetings and forums abroad.

“There were 23 types of meetings/fora/dialogues wherein two to five participants were sent by DoJ to attend, resulting in huge amounts of traveling expenses being spent by DoJ totaling P5,550,149.44. We also noted that, majority of those who were sent to attend such events were the same officials/personnel of DoJ,” reported CoA.

Further, state auditors noted that the disbursement vouchers and liquidation reports of the said foreign travels amounting to P771,643.30 “were not supported with complete documentation.”

“On the other hand, review of disbursement vouchers and liquidation reports pertaining to various travels during the year were not supported with complete documentation totaling P771,643.30, contrary to CoA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012, the prescribed rules/guidelines listing all documentary requirements for common government transactions,” said CoA.

Moreover, CoA also said the DoJ purchased airline tickets worth P1 million from travel agencies instead of complying with the Government Fares Agreement (GFA).

“There was no showing that the Department entered into a MoA with PS-DBM Government Fares Agreement (GFA) since they have used the services of a travel agency in the procurement of airline tickets totaling…P1,060,467.67,” said state auditors.

With these findings, COA recommended that DoJ submit the necessary requirements in compliance with CoA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012.

Sought for comment, DoJ Secretary Mernardo I. Guevarra said in a text message: “I will make sure that the DoJ will comply with the CoA recommendations and take appropriate corrective actions.”