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Labor leader seeks Ombudsman probe

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A LABOR leader has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the more than P1.7 billion allegedly wasted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) under director-general Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco.

In a letter to Tanodbayan Merceditas Gutierrez dated October 14, 2008, Annie Enriquez Geron, president of SAMAKA-TESDA, asked the anti-graft body to further investigate the 2007 findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) on Tesda transactions.

The issues Geron raised against Syjuco are:

– P101,012,925.71 in excessive, unnecessary expenses for paid media advertisements, printing of promotion materials, unauthorized/excessive payment of Representation and Transportation Allowances (RATA), Extra Miscellaneous Expenses (EME) and Exemplary Performance Reward (EPR) of Officials and Employees;

– P61.38 million representing cash advances and outstanding inventory account for more than two years;

– P15.89-million disbursement without sufficient basis for officials and employees incentives;

P447.71 million unrecorded, underrecorded, overrecorded and unverifiable property, plant and equipment account;

P198,839.89 unpaid personal telephone calls;

P46.22 million unremitted fund to the National Treasury.

In sum, Geron claimed that P1,731,970,000 was wasted “due to irregular procurement, grossly disadvantageous contracts, procurement of equipment and facilities that remained dormant due to missing accessories, systems mismatch, lack of operational manuals and the poor PGMA scholarship program implementation and monitoring.”

Geron’s letter, which was based on the COA audit report, also pointed out questionable transactions by Tesda regional office 6, particularly the P3.42 million for various paid media advertisements from years 2005-2007.

Geron said the paid media ads violated Administrative Order No. 103 implemented by Tesda Circular No. 17.

“These advertising expenses were deemed unnecessary as contemplated under COA Circular No. 85-55A, as these are not essential in the operation of the agency. Moreover, contract amounting to P947,000 in TESDA-RO6 were awarded without the benefit of public bidding contrary to Sec. 54.1 of Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Act),” she said.

Tesda-6 employees and officials also partook of the P4.34-million Exemplary Performance Reward which is “in excess of the authorized amount under Budget Circular No. 2007-004,” Geron said.

The Tesda regional office in Western Visayas also failed to submit for current audit disbursement vouchers and supporting documents for financial transactions worth P5.15 million.

It was also found out that P148.45 million worth of equipment intended for TESDA Regional Training Center in Tagoloan in Region 10 was diverted to TESDA-accredited New Lucena Polytechnic College (NLPC) in Region 6 “contrary to the criteria for project sites selection to the detriment of the overall objective of the Project.”

The alleged diverted equipment are part of the P738-million equipment under the foreign loan-funded project of upgrading a network of seven TESDA regional training centers into Centers of Excellence in Modern Manufacturing Technology (CEMMT).

Geron had also filed graft cases against Syjuco in 2006 and 2007 which resulted in her transfer outside Luzon.

In previous interviews, Syjuco labeled Geron as a troublemaker who wanted to undermine his programs in Tesda.

Syjuco said not one of the graft cases filed against him was proven by concerned agencies.

In December 2007, the Presidential Anti Graft Commission (PAGC) found Syjuco and members of the Tesda Bids and Awards Committee guilty of grave misconduct and gross negligence in connection with the railroaded P9.2-million publication of a book without public bidding.

The PAGC recommended dismissal against the Tesda officials along with accessory penalties.

But Malacañang’s committee of peers later reversed the PAGC recommendation against Syjuco.

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