Wednesday, November 24, 2010

COA's 2009 Consolidated Audited Annual Report scores six (6) U.P. campuses for "lapses in internal control."

By Chanda Shahani

More student protests are expected in the following days due to the proposed budget cuts in 2011 by the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), including the University of the Philippines System. But U.P. officials have not helped U.P.'s cause much with legislators – due to their massive failure to control the misuse of state funds – the 2009 Consolidated Audited Annual Report (CAAR) of the Commission on Audit (COA) shows.

Department of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad says that a zero-based budget approach was used for the entire proposed 2011 national budget. Zero-based budgeting essentially throws away previous assumptions of previous years and forces the beneficiaries of the budget to justify on a line item basis every proposed expenditure. However, there is barely any time left for U.P. to make its case for 2011, as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has already promised to pass the budget out of the Senate by December 1.

From the one-dimensional point of view of DBM, moreover, cutting the budgets of SUCs automatically creates greater efficiencies in utilization and causes graft and corruption to be minimized because funding will no longer flow abundantly, as water does from a faucet. Student protester from U.P. disagree, however, saying that the existing budget of U.P. in 2010 was barely enough to keep its operations intact. They say that it is the duty of the State to subsidize education for state scholars and say that the unique mission of U.P. is that it is a public university that teaches its students that they have the obligation to serve the Filipino people and they are not there just obtain an excellent education.

On the revenue side, student protesters say that the alternative path of raising funds – which is the commercialization of education in U.P. – is wrong, because it essentially allows the State to pass on its obligations to U.P. on to market forces which will seek out the highest revenue yielding courses and aggressively seek efficiencies of all sorts and thereby force U.P. to ultimately abandon its commitment to serve the people.

But the stark reality is that on the cost side, U.P. has not kept its side of the street clean, as state and taxpayer funds from at least six (6) U.P. campuses continue to be diverted into unauthorized uses with the outgoing U.P. Administration unable or unwilling to exercise appropriate measures despite years of warnings from COA auditors.

COA's 2009 CAAR repeatedly scores the outgoing U.P. administration for “lapses in internal control on the granting/liquidation of cash advances were observed in all of the UP campuses of which a total of P21.77 million unliquidated cash advances have been long outstanding for two years or more contrary to COA Circular No.97-002 dated February 10, 1997.”

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