By Andreah Dianne M. Cartagena

PHOTO: Business Mirror

The Commission on Audit reported that there were various deficiencies in utilizing funds amounting to P16.9 billion allotted for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Despite its 95.86% fund utilization rate, COA noted in its annual report for 2021 that DOLE's defects are in undetermined "propriety and/or validity of the financial assistance granted to the various beneficiaries for TUPAD" in the DOLE Central Office, NCR, and Regions I, III, V, IX, XII, and XIII.

The agency added that this was due to "unliquidated fund transfers, unavailable/invalid/incorrect numbers, and no contact details of the beneficiaries.”

TUPAD is a program intended to assist in providing emergency employment to displaced workers, seasonal workers, and underemployed for 10 to 30 days depending on the work.

Other problems that COA cited are “unsubstantiated claims and lack of documentary requirements,” and “insufficient monitoring and validation of the beneficiaries, money remittance centers (MRCs), and [project] proponents.”

With these findings, COA called for DOLE to look into these defects and make immediate actions.

In NCR, 11,885 beneficiaries of the assistance were not validated because they cannot be contacted while some do not have contact details. 

COA also observed in the region that there were problems with workday limitations, insufficient payment to workers, and payment to workers without doing the job.

While in Central Luzon, full payments were given to the program’s beneficiaries despite lapses in documents that prove them attending to their jobs and even the acknowledgement for receiving the financial assistance. 

Furthermore, the work contracts of 20 beneficiaries did not coincide with the payroll form.

The auditing team also reported that DOLE's Northern Mindanao office had irregularities in community tax certificates (CTCs) that were used to identify the beneficiaries.

While in CARAGA, almost P32-million worth of cash advance for the wages of 9,529 beneficiaries were given to the cashier even without documents to support this.

Meanwhile, on Monday, July 4, re-elected senator Joel Villanueva expressed that one of his priority bills for his second term is the institutionalization of the TUPAD program.

Edited by Danfe Lean Grace R. Elopre