DOT moves on from 2018 mess, gets highest audit rating
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat delivers her welcome remarks at the DOT X WOFEX (World Food Expo) University Fun Food Talks held at The Tent at Enderun Colleges in Taguig City on Thursday (Nov. 21, 2010).
PNA/Gil Calinga
DOT moves on from 2018 mess, gets highest audit rating
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - October 1, 2020 - 7:29pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism has obtained an “unqualified opinion” from the Commission on Audit in its annual audit report for the fiscal year of 2019.

This is the first time the agency has been accorded the highest COA rating since 2009.

“In our opinion, the accompanying financial statements present fairly, in all material aspects, the financial position of the DOT as of December 31, 2019, and its financial performance, changes in net assets/equity, cash flows, and comparison of budget and actual amounts for the year ended in accordance with Internationals Public Sector Accounting Standards, “the Independent Auditor’s report read.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette-Puyat was elated by the positive rating from the audit body. She attributed the accomplishment to the hardworking men and women of the tourism agency.

“This Unqualified Opinion gives the Department of Tourism an over-all clean and positive image in the eyes of its clients and stakeholders. It clearly confirms that there are no material discrepancies or misstatements found in the financial statements of the department, and that we did everything fairly and in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations,” Puyat said in a statement.

The DOT said that as a government entity, the COA rating is affirmation that the agency  “is observing the highest degree of accountability and transparency in its financial management.”

The agency said the new rating reassures stakeholders and development partners that the DOT is “fully compliant with International Public Sector Accounting Standards, thus, can be relied upon as a good partner in developmental projects as it adheres to sound and internationally-accepted financial management practices.”

2018 COA report questioned DOT deals

In April 2018, the DOT, then under Puyat’s predecessor Wanda Tulfo-Teo, was implicated in a controversial advertisement deal with state-run People's Television Network, Inc. 

The COA then released an audit report questioning PTNI’s payment of P60 million to blocktimer Bitag Media Unlimited Inc to air the tourism agency’s ads on its show “Kilos Pronto" due to lack of supporting documents. This television program is produced by Teo’s brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo.

Teo tendered her resignation following the controversy.

In June of the same year, COA also flagged the DOT for more than P2 million in merchandise taken out of its stocks.

COA said that the DOT withdrew 277 items of merchandise amounting to US $6,938.35 or P346,446.80 from Duty Free, the tourism department’s attached agency, in 2017. These goods that include luxurious items were authorized by DOT officials to be delivered to their respective offices and charged to the "trust liability-DOT account."

When Puyat assumed office in May 2018, the tourism secretary ordered a thorough “house cleaning” of the agency.

Puyat also asked COA to conduct the pre-review of the DOT’s projects and contracts to avoid anomalies.

Meanwhile,  following the recent COA rating, Puyat challenged the DOT employees to “keep up the good work.”

“For the employees, it means a ‘job well done,’ a seal of excellence and transparency for the DOT. Achieving this milestone in this challenging time is a motivation for us to continue leading the tourism sector in helping rebuild the economy, and helping the sector rise from the torment of COVID 19. Integrity and accountability are cornerstones of transformational public service,” the tourism chief said.

BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT COMMISSION ON AUDIT DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM WANDA TULFO-TEO
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