Saturday| July 1, 2017
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) spent only about 60 percent, or P131 million, of its P220 million budget allocated for financial aid to indigent and underprivileged Filipinos in 2016, the Commission on Audit said in its report.
The bulk of the OVP budget went to medical and burial assistance amounting to P126 million and P3.7 million, respectively.
The financial assistance extended by the OVP also included relief operations, medical missions, and the purchase of wheelchairs.
COA, however, noted that more benficiaries could have been assisted, particularly for medical and burial assistance, if the OVP spent its remaining balance of P89 million.
Based on the maximum amount of P25,000 per request, the COA report said the "OVP could have already assisted or sent at least 3,500 cancer patients to chemotherapy sessions or in the case of the minimum P3,000 burial services, OVP could have supported additional 29,000 burials."
The OVP explained that compliance with technical requirements and the lack of manpower, of which only four to seven staff work in the morning to attend to interviews of applicants, as among the factors that hindered the office to efficiently utilize the funds, the report said upon inquiry of COA personnel.
Furthermore, an administration still in transition and the requirement of the OVP for applicants to directly transact with their office in Quezon City also limited their reach to potential beneficiaries.
"The new administration is still in the process of evaluation on how to best serve the needs of its constituency in terms of subsidies and financial assistance," the report said.
COA has recommended that the OVP consider alternative services such as coordinating with other government agencies providing social services.
"The objective should be to make the financial/medical assistance accessible to as many Filipinos as possible without compromising accountability for utilization of government funds," COA said.
The COA report said the OVP has agreed to comply with the audit recommendations and review its current system to maximize its budget allocation and efficiently extend in financial aid to Filipinos in need