COA rules Cebu City still liable for 632 unqualified SAP beneficiaries
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Audit ruled that Cebu City is liable for the distribution of the Special Amelioration Program (SAP) to 632 unqualified beneficiaries from the city’s 80 barangays.
In the Cebu City Annual Report for 2020 released by COA, they noted that there are 632 SAP beneficiaries who received P6,000 each or a total of P3.792 million from the program who were found to be employed by either the barangay or the local government unit (LGU).
“During our audit, we observed that some of the recipients returned their cash because they were ineligible. These recipients were among the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries, Overseas Filipino Workers or recipients of comparable assistance from the Social Security System or Department of Labor and Employment.”
“However, per further validation of the submitted list of recipients, there were still 632 ineligible beneficiaries who have not returned refunds. These beneficiaries were identified to be currently employed in barangays or in the LGU Cebu City,” said the COA report signed by Regional Director Marilou Rizzari.
COA warned the city government that the LGU officials will be liable for the release of the funds to ineligible beneficiaries and will face investigations by the proper authorities.
The state audit firm recommended that the city government send out demand letters to the beneficiaries to collect the refunds and investigate the officials involved.
The city government responded to COA in a letter asking to be relieved from liabilities on this discrepancy in the SAP distribution stating that the identification of the beneficiaries was handled by the barangays and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the city only served as encoders.
However, COA pointed out that the city cannot be relieved from responsibility and the argument that the City Department of Social Welfare and Services Office (DSWS) is unmeritorious.
COA said that under the memorandum of agreement between the city government and the DSWD, the city government has the responsibility of reviewing the “completeness and correctness” of the data provided by the barangay prior to sending these data to the DSWD regional office.
“Thus, the DSWS cannot be relieved from the responsibility of demanding refunds from ineligible recipients, considering the fact that the said office even certified the correctness of the submitted payroll in the first place,” said COA.
With this, the COA recommended that the city government send demand letters to the 632 unqualified beneficiaries to return the funds.
Furthermore, COA also recommended to the City Legal Office to further investigate the distribution and file the necessary criminal or administrative charges to officials involved.
City Administrator Floro Casas, Jr., said in a press conference on July 14, 2021, that the city should not be asked to issue these demand letters, but the city government will follow the recommendations of the COA.
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