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UN agency execs hit for conflict of interest

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - State auditors see a violation of the law in the practice of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) of allocating public funds for projects and programs to non-government organizations whose officers are also officials of that government agency.

In a 2013 report released yesterday, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the practice violates the rules on conflict of interest under Presidential Decree No. 1445, the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

UNACOM released a total of P620,000 to NGOs connected to its own officials during the year, COA added.

A total of P480,000 was released to an NGO of which committee on science and technology member Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga was an executive director, state auditors said.

The money is part of a P950,000 funding given to an NGO of which she is affiliated for the implementation of two database building projects for the Palawan Biosphere Reserve and a study analyzing the vulnerability of the rice terraces towards resilience and better adaptability to the potential impacts of climate change.

Records show that UNACOM has also given public funds amounting to P140,000 to another NGO which committee on education member Leticia Peñano-Ho is connected as president.

The amount is just a portion of the P200,000 granted to the NGO for the implementation of a Summit on Giftedness and High Ability.

State auditors said the law requires that no accountable or responsible officer shall be ‘pecuniarily’ interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract or transaction of the agency in which he is an officer.

“Some of the NGOs/POs which were recipient of funds for specific UNACOM projects were either headed or composed of appointed commissioners of various UNACOM committees, contrary to Section 108 of PD 1445 on prohibition against pecuniary interest,” state auditors said.

“Since the officers of the above-mentioned NGOs are at the same time connected to the agency, conflict of interest existed, contrary to the prohibition against pecuniary interest.” 

The COA said: “We recommended that management stop the practice of granting funds to NGOs/POs headed by officers of UNACOM to avoid an iota of suspicion in the eyes of the public against perceived conflict of interest and ensure objective selection of NGOs/POs.”

The law tasks UNACOM to develop and/or propose undertaking activities promoting and advancing the objectives of international peace and the common welfare of humankind through the five major fields of UNESCO competence: education, science and technology, social and human sciences, communication and culture.

ANTONIA YULO-LOYZAGA

GIFTEDNESS AND HIGH ABILITY

GOVERNMENT AUDITING CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES

INTEREST

LETICIA PE

NATIONAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES

PALAWAN BIOSPHERE RESERVE

PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO

UNACOM

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