Bawal yan! COA hits Nueva Ecija ex-Gov Umali’s discretion over financial aid
Former Nueva Ecija governor Aurelio Umali wielded much power in the local government unit that he exercised discretion over the grant of financial assistance from the provincial government, state auditors said.
In a 2016 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said it has requested from the Office of the Governor a copy of guidelines for all kinds of assistance granted by the province.
The auditors found out that no such guidelines were crafted except for those in granting educational financial assistance.
The auditors verified from the transactions in 2015 that the amount of financial assistance granted to various individuals, local and national government offices, and people’s organizations were not similar to other kinds of aid, such as burial and medical assistance, aid to individuals in crisis situations and to LGU for cultural activates, financial assistance for conventions/seminars, peace and order, among others.
The auditors said the grant of financial assistance rests only with the discretion of Governor Umali and his authorized agency officials, since no specific policy was established on the amount to be granted.
These financial aid under the governor’s discretion include burial assistance (ranging from P3,000 to P20,000), aid to individual in crisis situations (P3,500 to P300,000), aid to local government units for cultural activities (P10,000 to P75,000), aid to people’s organizations (P7,000 to P70,000), and aid to national government agencies officials and employees (P3,000 to P200,000).
The auditors said the lack of guidelines on the grant of financial assistance “may result in abuse of authority in the disposition of government funds.”
“Review of records, verification and interview disclosed that the granting of financial assistance rests only with the discretion of the Provincial Governor and his authorized agency officials since no specific policy was established on the amount to be granted,” the auditors said.
This also contravenes Section 2 of Presidential Decree 1445, which states that “All resources of the government shall be managed, expended or utilized in accordance with law and regulations, and safeguarded against loss or wastage through illegal or improper disposition, with a view to ensuring efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the operations of government.”
The COA urged the management to have the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer formulate written policies or guidelines as to who can qualify for the financial aid, and what kind of financial aid and the amount of financial aid that may be granted, to maximize the resources of the province so that more constituents would benefit.
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