COA calls out Congress for lack of programs for gender and development
MANILA, Philippines – Both chambers of Congress have failed to implement certain measures promoting gender and development (GAD), the Commission on Audit (COA) said.
In the separate audit reports of the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives released last July 8, COA noted that the Senate in 2018 did not comply with requirements on allocating at least five percent of an agency’s budget to GAD programs.
Senate had a P5.827 billion budget for 2018, but only P5 million or 0.08 percent was allocated to GAD projects — which supposedly ran contrary to the Section 30 of the Republic Act 10964 or the General Appropriations Act of 2018.
Based on COA’s data, five percent of the Senate’s annual budget is P291.3 million, or more than P286 million above what was allocated.
“Section 30 requires all government agencies to formulate a GAD Plan designed to address issues within their concerned sectors or mandate and implement applicable provisions under RA 9710 or the Magna Carta on Women (MCW), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (1995-2025) and the Philippine Development Plan (2017-2022),” COA explained.
“The same Section also provides that the GAD Plan shall be integrated with the regular activities of the agencies with at least five per cent fund allocation based on their budgets,” COA added.
Of the P5 million GAD fund, only P2.188 million or 44 percent was already utilized, most of which went to GAD sensitivity seminars for Senate employees (P797,143), consultations with women groups (P463,699), and orientation on the GAD Focal Point System (GFPS) (P360,710).
The House, on the other hand, failure to create a GFPS, which is mandated under RA 9710.
COA asked the Senate to comply with the provisions of the GAA. However, Senate’s management reasoned out that they cannot allocate five percent of annual budgets yet because it would go over their absorptive capacity, as their GAD is still in the early process of gender mainstreaming.
Meanwhile, the House was required by COA create the GFPS in accordance with RA 9710, and similarly allocate five percent of its annual budget to GAD programs.
Senior citizens and PWDs
The House earned praises from COA for improving its facilities, for the ease of senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) making business with the legislative body. According to COA, facilities ensuring a safe and easy access at the different portions of the House complex are being maintained properly.
COA also lauded that the creation of a non-profit organization, named Empowering People with Disabilities, as it promotes the “creation of a barrier-free environment through legislation and advocacy”.
“We are glad to note Management’s sustained efforts in complying with the requirements of the law, and its continuous integration of plans, programs and projects in its regular activities to address the concerns of senior citizens and PWDs,” the commission said.
The Senate also had programs for senior citizens but was called out for not creating plans for PWDs. State auditors observed that the AdHoc Committee created for such purposes was unable to convene due to time constraints caused by the leadership change.
“Section 31 of the General Provisions of RA No. 10964 requires all government agencies to formulate plans, programs and projects intended to address the concerns of SCs and PWDs, insofar as it relates to their mandated functions and integrate the same in their regular activities,” COA said.
“We recommended and Management agreed to adhere with Section 31 of the General Provisions of RA 10964 by requiring the Ad Hoc Committee to institute, formulate and oversee the implementation of the plans and programs related to Senior Citizens and Persons with Disability,” COA added./ac
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