DepEd welcomes congressional inquiry on budget spending
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has welcomed the plan of the Senate and House of Representatives to conduct inquiries on the reported issues involving the agency’s financial management and budget spending.

In a statement Tuesday, the DepEd reiterated its commitment to strengthen its financial management system following the latest Commission on Audit (COA) report that cited various issues, including failure to liquidate over P13 billion in funds and the alleged delay in classroom construction and distribution of textbooks.

The state auditor stressed that the department has already been working with COA on the matter and that it has already submitted its explanation on the audit observations.

“The DepEd assures the public and its stakeholders that it had already addressed COA’s observations, and that it is determined to continuously improve its systems and processes,” the agency said.

“The DepEd welcomes the inquiry that the Senate and the House of Representatives plan to conduct on this matter. We will appreciate a public process to respond to the issues raised in the COA report,” it added.

Its exit conferences and audit engagements with COA have been very positive and reassuring, according to the DepEd, noting that the department has instituted new policies and is in the process of updating, simplifying and codifying its internal rules as part of its financial reform efforts.

“The DepEd underscores that COA observations — which were issued to the department as audit observation memorandums — are all subject to explanation and justification by the agency concerned,” it said.

“It should be noted that audit observations are different from a notice of suspension and a notice of disallowance. A notice of suspension signifies suspending payment or disbursement until the agency justifies or complies with COA requirements, while a notice of disallowance requires an agency to refund/return payment,” the agency added.

Education Undersecretary for finance Annalyn Sevilla had earlier explained that the audit report findings, specifically on matters involving liquidation, were due to the late consolidation and reconciliation of voluminous records with implementing units.

Sevilla noted that the volume of records needed to be consolidated, citing accounts of the DepEd Central Office, 16 regions, more than 232 division offices and about 43,000 schools.

She said they have already initiated the process of releasing the undistributed buffer learning materials flagged by the COA.

Last week, Sen. Sonny Angara said he would call for a probe on the supposed poor performance of the DepEd in budget utilization.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers also called for an investigation on the audit observations by the COA.

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