In its 2018 audit report, COA said of this total amount, only P33.795 million was recovered as of year-end, while the remaining 51.89 percent or P36.454 million remains unrefunded.
Ernie Peñaredondo
‘PVAO paid P70 M to dead pensioners’
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has directed the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) to determine and hold liable its officials responsible for the payment of a total of P70.25 million in monthly pensions to deceased beneficiaries.

“Comparison of the payroll of pensioners and list of reported deaths for Calendar Year 2018 disclosed that 5,721 or 84.5 percent out of 6,768 total reported deaths continuously received their regular monthly pensions which ranged from one to 65 months, thus resulted in the overpayment amounting to P70,250,300.00,” the COA said.

In its 2018 audit report, COA said of this total amount, only P33.795 million was recovered as of year-end, while the remaining 51.89 percent or P36.454 million remains unrefunded.

The COA added the recovered fund was still deposited to PVAO’s servicing banks instead of remitting it to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), in violation of Republic Act 10964 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2018.

The COA pointed out that under Section 10 of the 2018 GAA, all government offices and instrumentalities are mandated “to close and revert all balances of special accounts, fiduciary or trust funds, revolving funds and unauthorized accounts” to the national treasury “when they are no longer necessary for the attainment of the purpose for which funds are established.”

“We recommended that (PVAO) management determine the role and participation of each official/employee involved in the process of pension benefits and hold them liable therefor,” the COA said.

The audit body did not buy the PVAO’s explanation that the recovered amount will be used for the payment of accrued pensions or pensions due to other pensioners.

The PVAO claimed it had obtained authorization from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to use the recovered amount instead of returning it to the BTr.

“However, verification of the three authority from DBM revealed that these were issued in Fiscal Year 2015 for specific name of pensioners which was previously requested by the (PVAO) management, thus, the authority issued by DBM in 2015 could not be applied in CY 2018,” the COA pointed out.

COA noted that based on the financial statements of the PVAO’s servicing banks, the pension accounts still have an accumulated balance totalling P1.955 billion as of Dec. 31, 2018.

“We recommended that (PVAO) management immediately remit the recovered amount of P33,795,611.84 to the BTr as required under the General Provisions of the GAA for CY 2018,” the COA said.

“Henceforth, once (PVAO) verified the liquidations from the servicing banks, any unused balance should be remitted to the BTr,” it added.

Despite the negative findings, the COA still commended the PVAO for its implementation of a Simplified Validation Program which supposedly made the system of verifying the life/marital status of the pensioners more efficient.

The COA noted that from one to 132 months of continuous remittance of monthly pensions to deceased beneficiaries in 2015 and 2016, the figure decreased to one to 65 months in 2018.

“The decrease was due to additional enhancement in their systems to gradually lessen if not eliminate defects in the system such as continuous payment of pension to deceased pensioners,” the COA said.

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