MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) recently flagged the National Youth Commission (NYC), now led again by President Ronaldo Cardema, for embezzling up to 2.714 million pesos in 2021 to support the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armies. Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
According to COA Annual audit report 2021made public in June 2022, these funds were earmarked for the training of young leaders under the Sangguniang Kabataan Compulsory and Continuing Training Fund (SKMCTF) and for Marawi City rehabilitation efforts through Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM).
This is not the first time that the youth organization has been implicated for mismanagement of its funds. (LILY: [OPINION] Armament of the National Youth Commission)
Cardema became NYC’s officer in charge in 2018, when the first president appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte, singer and actor Ice Seguerra, resigned.
In August of that year, Cardema, also a leader of Duterte Youth during the presidential campaign, was finally named chairman and CEO. He left when he tried to get himself named to the party list, but has since been reappointed commissioner and then president.
In between, Ryan Enriquez served as chairman, his tenure also marred by complaints of mismanagement from employees.
Here’s a rundown of state auditors’ findings on the misuse of NYC funds under President Duterte’s appointments:
2018: COA orders NYC to refund overpayment
The COA ordered NYC to repayment what he considered to be unauthorized additional compensation and over-reimbursement of meal and travel expenses incurred in 2018.
Their 2018 report flagged to the youth commission incorrect compensatory leave and special day off credits, improper monetization of leave credit, and excessive travel and meal claims.
2019: Huge spending, few accomplishments
Cardema’s predecessor, former President Seguerra, criticized him for apparently using his position and government resources while he was in New York campaigning for Duterte Youth in the race for the party slate.
In the COA’s 2019 report, state auditors slammed the youth commission for incurring huge expenses when it had little to prove.
NYC spent 9.333 million pesos of the 10.405 million pesos in project funds – 89.7% of the allocation – but only carried out 4 of 12 planned activities under its drug programs and HIV prevention.
2020: Stale checks and irresponsible spending
Around mid-2020, the National Youth Commission Employees Association (NYCEA) sent an appeal letter to President Duterte’s office, urging him to impeach President Enriquez. They cited multiple instances of Enriquez’s alleged abuse and usurpation of authority, breach of security of tenure, and harassment. At least 120 SK and student organizations supported them.
In September of that year, President Enriquez was lambasted online for a “public service announcement” billboard about the pandemic that bore his massive photo. Netizens have speculated that taxpayers’ money must have been used to produce the billboard.
Meanwhile, in the COAs 2020 reportauditors found that uncleared and uncashed checks older than six months, totaling P291,000, were not being returned to the NYC treasury account.
Auditors observed that NYC’s financial statements were not accurate representations of their expenditures due to variances, such as inventory items and units of personal protective equipment (PPE) totaling P141,000 not being classified as semi-consumable items or items costing less than P15,000 although that is so.
The COA also reported to NYC that it hired a total of 51 contract workers and paid them a total of 8.9 million pula for taking on job responsibilities that were already similar to what regular employees do.
2021: Arrested for supporting NTF-ELCAC, illegal use of Marawi funds
State auditors found that in 2021, the NYC withdrew 652,000 pesos from the SKMCTF to pay the salaries of three contract of service (COS) hires when their jobs were unrelated to the Sangguniang Kabataan program or to his goal.
These three COS hires worked as “presidential staff officers” and were each paid about 30,000 pesos a month.
The ACO found that the duties of these hires were unrelated to the fund’s objectives described in AR 10742 or the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015, and instead carried out activities in support of the NTF-ELCAC.
The COA concluded that the use of the SKMCTF to pay for contract hires was an “irregular or illegal expense”, based on ACO Circular No. 2012-003.
Funds amounting to P2,061,818 were also withdrawn from the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP) to pay for the “mental and psychosocial services” of 40 young volunteers who were hired as carers or social workers. .
These services fell outside of NYC’s roles as a member of the pandemic task force.
All health-related activities were directed by the Health and Human Services Subcommittee, led by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
NYC worked under the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the co-lead agency of the Security, Peace and Order Subcommittee with the Department of National Defense.
Based on these findings, the COA said the spending was both redundant and a waste of public funds. – Rappler.com