Press Release
September 11, 2021

De Lima seeks probe on TESDA's release of P160 million to NTF-ELCAC

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima called for a Senate investigation into Technical Education and Skills Development Authority's (TESDA) utilization of its COVID-19 funds and its disbursement of ?160 million to the government's anti-insurgency task force, among other irregularities.

De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (PSR) No. 886 directing the appropriate Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the reported deficiencies flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2020 audit report on the TESDA.

"It is necessary to investigate these issues and determine once and for all whether the transfer of funds is viable and what impact it will have on the utilization of public funds," she said.

In the report, the COA noted that, despite lacking authority, the TESDA transferred ?160 million to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2020, with the vocational training agency's office in the Davao region receiving the biggest chunk at ?41.95 million.

The COA noted that "[f]und transfers amounting to ?160,083,401.61 are highly questionable for lack of proper authority/legal basis and the absence of appropriate guidelines as to how this fund shall be utilized, likewise exposing these funds to possible misuse or misappropriation."

The Commission likewise flagged "disparities" in the TEDSA's use of ?768.53 million in COVID-19 funds, noting that its utilization rate of funds transferred to regional offices did not match with the low rate of enrolled scholars and the actual number of graduates.

The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that the COA has the sole duty to ensure that effective controls are in place to protect government financial assets and properties, improve effectiveness and efficiency, and be a vital instrument against corruption and misuse of public funds and properties.

De Lima said that TESDA "should provide legal authority or justification for the financial transfer since this could serve as a pretext for technical misappropriation of public funds which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code."

"Given that the TESDA appropriation for CY 2020 was intended for the implementation of the Agency's programs/projects following its mandate, the funds should have been used accordingly."

"Kailangang imbestigahan ang ganitong mga iregularidad. Lalo na ngayong pandemya, ang pondong dapat napupunta sa edukasyon at kasanayan para magamit sa kabuhayan ng Pilipino, ay hindi dapat napupunta sa pagpapataba ng bulsa ng mga magnanakaw at abusado," De Lima said.

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