Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the Philippine Daily Inquirer report saying that the “DOLE owes poor students millions . . . ” is not true, as she said the COA Report on the matter clearly says that “payments to at least 36,702 students amounting to P82,574,452.02 of the PP233,381,644.38 in CY 2012 for the 40 percent share of the DOLE” have been made, although it noted these “were delayed by one (1) to 474 days . . .”

In a press statement, Baldoz said the COA report is very clear, contrary to the Philippine Daily Inquirer ‘s report which appeared on Page 2 of the newspaper’s 27 December 2013 issue.

“We have explained to the COA the reasons for the delay during the exit conference on the report,” Baldoz said.

“Regarding this delay, as well as the other issues raised by the COA in its report, I have already issued a memorandum to all concerned DOLE regional directors to submit to me not later than 3:00 P.M. today the actions they have taken relative to the COA findings and recommendations. Failure to comply with my directive will be dealt with accordingly, including the suspension of salaries and allowances,” she added.

The COA report also noted that an amount of P2.213 million in individual checks for 988 SPES beneficiaries prepared from June 2008 to June 2012 have became stale as of 31 December 2012 due to inadequate documentation or deficiency in requirements of the beneficiaries. The COA has recommended that the individual checks be replaced or the amount be reverted to the National Treasury.

“For this purpose, I have instructed the regional directors to comply with the COA recommendation and to immediately submit an updated report on the individual checks they have replaced or the amount they have reverted,” said Baldoz.

As to the unreleased or unclaimed checks for 3,841 SPES beneficiaries employed between June and December 2012 amounting to P7.627 million which the COA also noted, Baldoz said this has been explained to the audit body which had recommended to exclude from the payrolls under processing those students with inadequate documentation/deficiencies while the necessary requirements are being completed.

“We have agreed as well to this recommendation,” she said.

She also explained the need for the DOLE to migrate from manual to automation in the registration of SPES beneficiaries, in the processing of SPES claims, and in the production and generation of SPES reports owing to the annual increasing trend of SPES beneficiaries.

“The BLE will implement the automated system effective 2014. Needless to say, my instant directive to the regional directors is to locate the SPES beneficiaries with complete supporting documents and pay them immediately, in coordination with employers, the PESOs, and the local government units who had identified the beneficiaries,” the labor and employment chief said.

Finally, Baldoz assured the public that the concerned DOLE regional offices will strictly comply with all the COA recommendations as instructed and she will not hesitate to take appropriate administrative action if they fail to do so.

END

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