P95 million scholarship funds for kin of killed, injured cops unused – COA

MANILA, Philippines – Scholarship funds amounting to P95.2 million intended for the families of slain and injured cops have not been used by the National Police Comission (Napolcom).

"There was a very low utilization of the scholarship funds which at year-end has an unutilized balance of ₱95,296,368.37," the Commission on Audit (COA) stated in its 2017 audit report on Napolcom accessed by Rappler on Monday, July 9.

The distribution of scholarship funds for the families of slain and incapacitated cops is mandated by Republic Act 6963 in recognition of police personnel's service. 

The funds are raised from the firearms license fees collected by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The unused P95.2 million is an accumulation of previous years of unused scholarsip funds, with COA records showing that unused funds in 2015 stood at P41.1 million, then rose to P63 million in 2016.

As of December 31, 2017, the Napolcom counted 480 cops either killed or incapacitated in action, with 620 eligible scholars in their families claiming the funds.

Why are millions unused? According to COA, the unused funds reached this high because of the following reasons:

While the Napolcom keeps a record of beneficiaries using the scholarship fund, COA said the Napolcom does not keep track of those who are eligible but have not availed themselves of the funds.

COA also noted that the unused funds have been kept in a Land Bank of the Philippines account registered in the bank's West Avenue branch in Quezon City.

Citing Executive Order 338, COA said the Napolcom should have been depositing the unspent funds to the Bureau of Treasury.

Funds hard to avail: The scholarship funds may be availed by asking the local Napolcom office to either pay tuition fees directly, or by reimbursing the payment of the tuition if the beneficiary family decides to pay first.

According to COA, there are benificiaries unaware that they can ask Napolcom to pay schools and universities directly, just upon the presentation of a fees breakdown.

Interstingly, COA said, the Napolcom Central Office has never made a direct payment in the last 3 years that they made an audit on their spending. (READ: Scholarships for deserving students)

The auditing team said they spoke with one scholar who tried to avail of a direct payment method to pay for tuition fees, but the Napolcom office supposedly asked the benificiary for an official receipt, defeating the purpose of the direct payment option.

"Management continuously asserted that direct payment is allowed, however, it appears that the assertion made is inconsistent with the practice of requiring the submission of ORs (official receipts) prior to the processing of claim," COA stated. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.