COA lauds 3 Bataan towns on COVID-19 response

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    THE Commission on Audit has issued glowing remarks regarding the performance of the municipal governments of Abucay, Dinalupihan, and Hermosa in Bataan in responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In separate audit reports released April 6, 2021, government auditors said all three municipalities acted promptly, executed their emergency response protocols properly, and spent available resources efficiently to deliver relief services to their constituents.

    The town of Pilar, Bataan, however strayed from the pack as the audit team flagged its transactions for entering into contracts without existing appropriations or available funding and lack of transparency in reporting its expenses.

    Based on records, Abucay received P10.438 million under the Bayanihan Grant for Cities and Municipalities (BGCM), Dinalupihan got P20.844 million, and Hermosa was given P15.615 million.

    The audit team said Abucay was able to fasttrack an appropriation ordinance that included its BGCM allocation in the supplemental investment program. This gave it ample time to plan spending based on the guidelines of the Department of Budget and Management-Local Budget Circular (DBM-LBC) No. 125.

    The sum went to the purchase of welfare goods worth P5.6 million, provision of isolation/quarantine facilities for home-bound overseas workers, and procurement of medical supplies and support equipment as well as defraying the cost of transportation for frontline workers.

    After submitting a full breakdown of its expenses, the municipal government remitted a balance of P40.55.

    There were some wrinkles including some lacking receipts and procedural infractions but the COA said these were only “minor deficiencies” that one can expect in the procurement and documentation process.

    Dinalupihan was credited for proper execution of pandemic response through distribution of government assistance to hard-up communities, procurement of relief supplies, enforcing quarantine and preventive measures and delivery of emergency subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

    “We commended the Management in the provision of various types of assistance to its constituents to address their urgent needs in response to the pandemic and to continue their efforts to further assess and provide actions/solutions to the effects of the pandemic to the entire locality.

    The municipal government however acknowledged that it committed some lapses in the procurement process citing the urgency of addressing the health crisis.

    “The need to fast track the procurement process became more essential than the voluminous documents required and secured the basic and more important documents such as delivery receipts, invoices, official receipts and pictures,” it explained.

    Nonetheless, it assured the COA that the LGU will abide by the audit recommendations on compliance with documentary requirements and processes.

    For Hermosa, the audit team said it was satisfied with the implementation of plans, enforcement of disease control measures and the distribution of Emergency Subsidy Program under SAP.

    The municipality also provided a full breakdown of its spending for COVID-19 response not only for the Bayanihan Funds and amelioration program but also for sums spent out its Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF).

    Even as verifications are still ongoing regarding the receipt of P6,500 cash assistance to needy households, the COA said its initial assessment showed “there were no deviations noted” and the proper amounts were handed out as intended.

    “The foregoing observations showed the best effort of the LGU to provide the urgent needs of their constituents and addressed the risks brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the audit team said.

    However, in reaction to notifications about unsupported transactions, the municipal government agreed to direct the Municipal Accountant to check the completeness of the documentation for proper liquidation.