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COA flags Comelec over P671 million unliquidated cash advances

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
COA flags Comelec over P671 million unliquidated cash advances
The photo of the Commission on Audit's office in Quezon CIty taken on Aug. 17, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over P671.473 million in unliquidated cash advances of its special disbursing officers, officials and employees.

In its 2021 annual audit report on the Comelec, the COA said the poll body kept on granting additional cash advances to its special disbursing officers, officials and employees despite non-liquidation or settlement of their previous advances, in violation of Presidential Decree (PD) 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

The COA said this resulted in the accumulation of unliquidated cash advances, which stood at P671.473 million as of Nov. 30, 2021.

The COA’s breakdown showed that there were 2,895 accountable officers of the poll body who have yet to liquidate cash advances, of whom 2,571 were special disbursing officers with a total unliquidated balance of P492.778 million and 324 were officials and employees with total unliquidated balance of P178,696 million.

The COA said the audit team’s review of the Comelec’s accounts revealed that 496 out of 2,895 accountable officers were granted additional cash advances totaling P90.5 million “despite non-liquidation or non-settlement of the previous cash advances given to them.”

The COA reminded the Comelec that under Section 89 of PD 1445, “a cash advance shall be reported on and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was given has been served.”

The audit body added that Section 89 of PD 1445 as well as COA Circular No. 97-002 both state that no additional cash advance shall be granted to any official or employee unless his or her previous cash advance has been settled or accounted for.

In the same audit report, the COA also reminded the Comelec to remit to the National Treasury a total of P310.789 million in service fee collections.

The COA said the unremitted amount included fees from voters certification, authentication and replacement of voters ID and certification of true copy of voters registration record, among others.

The COA noted that the poll body erroneously credited the collections to its Trust Fund instead of remitting the amount to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), in violation of the PD 1445.

In a reply, the Comelec said that its Accounting Division will determine the amount to be remitted to the BTr after reviewing and verifying the unremitted balance of collections to date.

Meanwhile, the COA also called out the Comelec over its failure to return a total of P208.176 million it received from various local government units (LGUs) for the conduct of plebiscites “notwithstanding completion of the projects.”

“The related plebiscites corresponding to these fund transfers were already conducted; however, unused balances thereof were not returned to the concerned LGUs, contrary to the above cited regulation,” the COA said.

The COA said that of the total unused balance, 55 percent or P115.314 million pertained to fund transfers received in 2020 and prior years and 45 percent or P92.863 million pertained to the balance from the Palawan plebiscite conducted on March 13, 2021.

COMELEC

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