COA questions P230M DAP milk fund
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Audit (COA) has found something sour in the P230-million fund from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) meant for a milk feeding program that had 52 proponents, including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc and an NGO associated with a sister of President Aquino.
The milk feeding program was meant to provide 200-milliliter packs of milk to pregnant women, senior citizens and children in day care, pre-school and Grade 1 “pre-identified by the legislators and the ADF for a period of 120 days except for certain legislators who specifically indicated the number of feeding periods in their areas.”
The ADF is the Assisi Development Foundation led by former Ambassador Howard Q. Dee as chair and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino Dee.
In its annual audit report on the National Dairy Authority (NDA), the COA cited dubious signatures, faulty monitoring systems, conflicts of interest in the procurement of milk and the failure of the program to live up to the DAP’s goal to be an economic stimulus.
The NDA is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture.
The COA noted the P229.636-million milk feeding program did not contribute to the DAP’s goal of stimulating the economy because only 73 percent or P167.44 million was disbursed in September 2012 to the first and second batches of lawmakers.
No fund releases were made to the third and fourth batches of lawmakers while the fifth batch was allocated funds outside of the special allocation release order (Saro) and notice of cash allocation (NCA).
Of the DAP funds channeled to the NDA only half, or P87 million, was spent for 33 projects.
The COA said that of the 56 projects proposed by 51 legislators, only 28 projects worth P82.165 million were completed; 10 projects worth P30.701 million were ongoing; nine projects worth P30.058 million had yet to be started; three projects worth P10.5 million were not yet obligated; and the remaining six projects worth P21.7 million had no notices of cash allocation yet.
No reply from Abad
“The ADF’s Hapag-Asa Nutrition Program was not yet started though funds of P2.770 million were already obligated,” COA said.
The ADF still had P51.648 million from its allocation, which was supposed to have been deployed to milk feeding programs in Regions IV-B, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XII, XIII and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad did not reply to the Inquirer’s query as to why the ADF was chosen to be a recipient of the DAP project.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued a Saro and NCA on Dec. 22, 2011, (or 11 days after the House of Representatives impeached then Chief Justice Renato Corona) for the release of P229.636 million for the implementation of 57 milk feeding programs of the 52 proponents and the ADF.
The lawmakers were endorsed by Speaker Belmonte while the ADF’s Hapag-Asa Nutrition program was endorsed by Abad.
Abad defended his endorsement of the ADF. “They’re a legitimate NGO doing relief and rehab work in Mindanao and calamity-devastated areas. You should examine their track record,” he said in a text message.
In its reply to the COA, the NDA, led by Administrator Grace J. Senas, blamed the sluggish pace of the milk feeding program on “the non-readiness of some legislators; withdrawal of intent to pursue the projects by the legislators in the 2nd district of Marikina City, 2nd districts of Lanao del Sur and Manila; and the absence of advisories from other legislators.”
The NDA explained that it had intended to fast-track the project by releasing the funds on a first-come first-served basis, which explained why the DBM issued a blanket authority to avail itself of funds for the lawmakers who were ready but were in the latter batches.
The COA has recommended that the NDA return all unused DAP funds to the Bureau of Treasury in compliance with the Supreme Court decision last month declaring the DAP unconstitutional.
In its findings, the COA said there was “no assurance” that 6.7 million packs worth P87.002 million procured by 31 legislators would be “completely delivered” to 104,575 beneficiaries “due to questionable signatures affixed to the documents and incomplete documents (delivery and acceptance receipts, sales invoice and distribution lists) supporting the transactions.”
“Further scrutiny of the supporting documents showed that the following factors cast doubt as to the completeness of the deliveries made and distribution to beneficiaries: questionable signatures affixed to the supporting documents; incomplete documentation to disbursements totaling P27.045 million; possible conflict of interest between the proponent legislator and the supplier; and existence of pecuniary interest on the part of the NDA milk feeding coordinator, who also represented the supplier of milk packs,” COA said.
The agency said that “signatures of the legislators’ representatives on the supporting documents appeared to be different when compared with their signatures affixed to the certification issued by the concerned legislators that they are the latter’s authorized representatives.”
The COA also found out that the persons receiving the goods were not the authorized representatives of the legislators.
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