DOJ to comply with COA recommendations on fund use

MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it would comply with the recommendations regarding its undocumented fund transfers, payrolls, and unauthorized bank accounts, which were flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2017 audit report on the agency.

This was bared by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday.

The finance people at the DOJ undertake to comply with all the recommendations of the COA and assure that all public monies are accounted for. As new SOJ, (I) will make sure that this will be so, Guevarra said in text message sent to Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Sunday.

The COA report bared transfer of funds amounting to PHP621,646,352.48 where no corresponding payments were made while there were also payments amounting to PHP305,390,659.08 with no corresponding transfer of funds.

"The ATM account was used as a parking account for unused NCA (notice of cash allocation) to avoid lapsing," the COA said.

Under existing government policies, funds not utilized by agencies at the end of every quarter must be returned to the national treasury.

"We recommend that the Finance Service stop the practice of transferring funds to the ATM Payroll account for transactions without valid expenses and to return to the Bureau of the Treasury any deposit without valid obligations," COA said.

The commission flagged as anomalous the several Journal Entry Vouchers (JEV) that were not supported by necessary documents, which happened during the tenure of former Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II. Aguirre was replaced by Guevarra as DOJ chief on April 5.

The four JEVs amounting to PHP27,680,253.40 were all dated March 1, 2018.

The auditors also flagged as anomalous the existence of three unauthorized bank accounts holding a combined amount of PHP65,685,647.45.

In a statement, Aguirre said the funds were transferred from one DOJ account to another DOJ account, for the benefit of the department.

As explained by the Financial Service officials, the transfer of funds amounting to PHP621,646,352.48 from January 2017 to September 2017 represents the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) transferred from the DOJ MDS Account (LBP Account No. 2059-90024-5) to DOJ ATM Payroll Account (LBP Account No. 0592-1060-51), Aguirre said.

The transfer of NCA was made to the DOJ ATM Payroll Account because payment of salaries of employees, being regular expenses, usually demands a huge chunk of the released NCA. This would ensure that there will be no case that payment of salaries will be delayed. At any rate, all balances of the ATM payroll account are utilized for the payment of salaries and emoluments of officials and employees, in the Main Office and in the Regions, he added.

The former Justice Secretary said he has no participation whatsoever in the transactions, which were the subject of the Annual Audit Report released by the COA, as no signature was ever required of the undersigned in connection with the said transactions since said transactions did not reach the knowledge of the undersigned as these involved operations between the Personnel Division and the Accounting Division.

At the outset, it is worth highlighting that the financial transactions in the Department of Justice are handled primarily by the Financial Service, from the Budget and Accounting Divisions and under their Director IV. In the delegation of functions, there is an Assistant Secretary and Undersecretary for Finance. Unless the law requires direct action of the Secretary of Justice, all financial transactions are taken care of by these officials, Aguirre explained. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency