NCIP flagged over lavish meals, hotel accommodations

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has scolded the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for spending P4.815 million on meals and accommodations at high-end restaurants, resorts and hotels.

In its annual audit report, the COA noted that the NCIP disbursed P3,835,897.50 and P979,695.93 for meals and hotel accommodations for 2018 and 2019, respectively, for a total of P4,815,593.43.

The expenses were incurred in connection with the conduct of various projects and activities of the NCIP.

“These activities were conducted mostly at high-end hotels and restaurants where food and accommodation were relatively high compared to other alternative venues. If the agency intended to save funds, other venues could have been considered,” the COA report read.

The audit body said the NCIP violated Administrative Order 6 and COA Circular 2012-003, which prohibit government agencies and instrumentalities from incurring “irregular, unnecessary, extravagant, excessive and unconscionable expenses.”

State auditors said the NCIP expenditures were not supported with complete documents such as proof of posting of request for quotations, letter of invitations to bid and Notice of Award in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website or on the NCIP website.

“Verification showed that only high-end hotels and restaurants were given requests for quotations and letter of invitations to bid,” the COA said.

“It seemed that venues for trainings, seminars and conferences were already predetermined,” the audit body added.

The COA said the activities “proved to be costly” as they were held in distant places such as the Highland Resort in Camiguin and Duka Bay in Medina, Misamis Oriental. There were also meetings and conferences as well as mid-year and yearend assessments conducted in resorts and hotels in Cagayan de Oro.

The COA said these meetings could have been done in one day but were extended by NCIP for another day, causing “additional and unnecessary meals and accommodations expenses.”

The NCIP is an attached agency of the Office of the President mandated to formulate and implement policies and programs that promote the rights, customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples.

In response to the audit report, the NCIP said it usually holds events in places where the participants are located.

The commission promised to strictly observe prudence and adhere to laws and regulations on the use of government funds in succeeding programs and activities.

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