HOAX: ‘COA flags Chito Gascon’s 3 P6.7-M China trips’

Claim: The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon’s 3 P6.7-M China trips in July alone.

The blog balitana.blogspot.com in their August 15 post ran the headline, “COA flags down Gascon’s P6.7M 3x trip to China in just one month.”

The post has been shared 3 times in different Facebook pages and groups. All of these accounted to a combined total of 505 interactions and 506,847 followers as of August 17.

The blog phnewspride.blogspot.com also posted the claim.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: As of posting time, the COA-CHR audit team has not flagged any trips to China made by Gascon in June this year.

CHR Executive Director Jacqueline de Guia also told Rappler via text that the claim is “false.”

Gascon also told Rappler that he has not travelled to China since becoming Chair; and the CHR’s yearly travel budget does not allow them to spend P6.7 million in one month.

Both blogs have a different cost of the alleged trip: per trip was at P6.7 million in the headline while P7.6 million in the body of the story.

Other details in the post also turned out to be false.

For instance, according to the blog post, COA Chief Auditor Miguel Ramirez pointed out Gascon and his “entourage” spent P21.7 million on travels abroad and 3 trips to China in June alone.

However, when asked via email, COA replied that there was no “Chief Auditor” Miguel Ramirez in their office. The name was also not listed in COA’s directory.

There are also no news reports and press releases supporting the claim in COA’s website. For 2018, there were only two press releases made by the agency as of posting time.

COA did flag CHR’s P3.6 million worth of unliquidated cash advances and P5.4 million worth of trainings and seminars at hotels. COA listed 20 events held at hotels: 13 within Metro Manila, and 7 in Tagaytay City, Antipolo City, Batangas City, and San Mateo. 

One example, the most expensive, was a business writing and oral communication skills training at Dream Ventures Property Management Corporation in Quezon City. The agency spent P585,850 for the said 4-day training.

These figures were disclosed in COA’s 2017 audit report. CHR maintained that these events went through “regular procurement rules and procedures of the government.”

The 2018 audit reports for government agencies are not yet released since the fiscal year is not over yet. Reports are typically released mid-year, before the new National Expenditure Program is submitted to Congress.

The blog phnewspride.blogspot.com has previously been checked by Rappler for posting a death hoax of martial artist Jet Li. (READ: 10 tips on how to spot fake news from Facebook)

Both blogs do not have a company profile, a named author, contact details, and an editorial board. This is typical of the dubious blogs Rappler has checked. — Miguel Imperial, with reports from Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler.com


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