PCUP officials hit for irregular spending

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    TALK about getting the wrong people for a job.

    Officials and employees of an agency tasked to take care of urban poor families are now in hot water with the Commission on Audit for irregular and extravagant spending.

    In the 2019 audit of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), government auditors found that agency officials did not mind paying more of the taxpayers’ money for their extra comfort and privileges.

    The audit team said a PCUP official, his staff, and even some contract of service (COS) personnel, paid additional airline fees for “choice seats.”

    Not content with their seat selection privilege, they likewise handed over more of the people’s money for their extra baggage inflight.

    While the audit team took care no identify the PCUP official concerned, the agency itself stated that the choice seats was necessary “for the reason that the Chairman has health problems.”

    It said it was on the doctor’s advice that the official “be always supported by his staff” and that when on a flight “he be seated near the entrance/exit of the plane” or where he can be in a “most comfortable state.”

    President Duterte in 2017 sacked Terry Ridon as PCUP head, and other agency officials for going on unnecessary travels abroad.

    It was not a one-shot deal either as the PCUP bigwig apparently availed of his creature comfort on a regular basis.

    “Examinations of the itinerary receipts of the plane tickets attached to the DV (disbursement voucher) showed the additional charges for preferred/choice seats and extra baggage allowances for January-December 2019,” auditors said.

    In all, the PCUP official’s personal conveniences cost the Filipino public P166,226.52.

    “The expenses incurred for preferred/choice seats and additional baggage allowance are personal expenses of the traveler, therefore should not be shouldered by the government,” the COA said.

    “The inclusion of additional/extra charges for prepaid baggage allowance, resulted in additional expenditures incurred which were irregular and extravagant,” it added.

    Rather than spending public funds for their comfort, the COA advised the PCUP officials and employees to go to the airport early so they can choose their preferred seats without additional cost to the government.