by Allan Yves Briones
The Commission on Audit (COA) cited the Department of Tourism (DOT) over the questionable expenditure of P204.67 million for ad buys in three foreign media outlets without valid contracts.
“Review of the obligations charged…revealed that the DOT obligated an amount of P204,668,046.00 for the payment of an advertising campaign activities for the Philippines on 28 December 2016 even without the approved contracts at the time of the issuance,” the 2018 audit report stated.
State auditors found that tourism officials released government funds to CNN, DNAP (Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific) and the BBC in violation of law and regulation.
Under Section 46 of Presidential Decree No. 1177 and Section 37, Chapter I of the Government Accounting Manual, no payment shall be made “unless the obligation is founded on a valid claim that is properly supported by sufficient evidence and unless there is proper authority for its incurrence” – in this case, according to COA, are government contracts.
Source: 2018 Annual Audit Report on the Department of Tourism
The state auditing agency also flagged a separate contract with the BBC where the DOT reportedly insufficiently funded by P20.13 million, contrary to law.
Audit records showed that DOT has allotted the sum of P54.87 million for a $1.5 million contract with BBC, effectively “insufficient to cover the entire contract cost” contrary to Presidential Decree No. 1445, effectively rendering the agreement void.
Tourism officials explained that the additional funds required were “accordingly obligated and charged against the 2016 Branding Budget.”
However, according to the COA Audit Team, no such document was submitted.
State auditors ordered DOT to take appropriate action against their officials responsible for the questionable contracts, as well as to ensure that future transactions are supported with the necessary documentary requirements.