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COA disallows P1.099M disaster risk fund spent for honoraria in Buenavista, Agusan

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The Commission on Audit (COA) has disallowed at least P1.099 million the municipal government of Buenavista in Agusan Del Norte spent from its disaster risk reduction funds to pay for the services rendered by the barangay rescue team during typhoon “Agaton”

In a 2016 report, the COA said the municipal government paid a total of P1,099,800 for the services rendered by the Barangay Rescue Team during the onslaught of typhoon Agaton for the period January to June 2014 without legal basis.

This runs counter to Section 4 (1) of Presidential Decree 1445, which states that one of the fundamental principles for the financial transactions and operations of the any government agency is to ensure that “No money shall be paid out of any public treasury or depository except in pursuance of an appropriation law or other specific statutory authority.”

Auditors said the volunteers from the Barangay Rescue Team in 2014 were granted the payments for services during Agaton’s onslaught.

The said disbursements were charged against the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) Fund at a rate of P300 per month per person or a total of 1,224 volunteers paid.

“Verification of records and chronological flow of events revealed that the issuance of the special appointment and designation order of the Municipal Mayor on January 6, 2014 was made prior to the occurrence of Typhoon Agaton on January 17 to 20, 2014 and the approval of the revised LDRRM Plan of the Municipality on March 13, 2014,” the auditors said.

“This only showed that the said special appointment and designations were not primarily issued due to the occurrence of calamity,” the auditors added.

Auditors said these disbursements and the inclusion of these activities in the LDRRM Plan showed that the payment of wages, honorarium or financial incentives to the rescue volunteers were not among the programs, projects and activities that may be charged against the LDRRM Fund, as provided under Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act.

“In summary, the payment of the financial incentives to Barangay Rescue Volunteers of the Municipality is without legal basis contrary to the provisions of Section 4 (1) of Presidential Decree 1445, thus disallowable in audit,” the auditors said.

The COA urged the municipal mayor Norbert Pagaspas to stop the practice of charging the financial incentives against the LDRRMF without prejudice to the issuance of notice of disallowance for the said transactions due to lack of legal basis.

The COA also recommended strict compliance with Republic Act 10121 on the allocation and utilization of the LDRRM Fund.

Auditors admitted that the law does not expressly prohibit the payment of honoraria to barangay volunteers, but they also emphasized that the law does not give provisions on the payment of the same, that is “what the law does not include, it excludes.”

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