COA flags P500-M worth of tourism department transactions

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged P507.304 million worth of transactions of the Department of Tourism, involving foreign travels and disbursements from the Philippines' hosting of international summits.

"Various disbursements amounting to P507,304,017.19 were not supported with necessary documents to establish their validity, contrary to Section 4.6 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445, Sections 5 (f) and 36 (f), Chapter 2 of the Government Accounting Manual (GAM) Volume I, and COA Circular No. 2012-001 dated June 14, 2012," said the 2018 audit report of the DOT.

The biggest bulk of the flagged expenses is P484.160 million worth of disbursements of the DOT's Central Office, broken down as:

The other flagged transactions from regional officers were worth millions – mostly payments of salaries of employees both regular and contractual, as well as their travel orders and office supplies.

There is also a P3-million worth of honoraria payments to resource persons but which were not supported by contracts.

"Non-submission of the necessary documents affects the validity and propriety of the disbursements made and an indication of weakness in the internal control over disbursements of Central and Regional Offices," said COA.

The DOT committed to submit the lacking documents.

Auditors warned that if the documents do not satisfy proper requirements they will have to issue a Notice of Suspension, which is essentially an order to stop paying the amounts while the case is being resolved.

The DOT is reeling from controversies involving its past leadership under Wanda Teo. The department's leadership had been accused of misusing P80 million for the Tourism Board's Buhay Carinderia and is being made to account for P2.5-billion worth of inefficient programs and questionable expenses.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.