Probe into 'irregular' transfer of Tesda fund to NGOs proposed-A A +A
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
ILONGGA Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is pushing for an inquiry into alleged irregular transfer of funds from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) to non-government organizations.
"Although there are already existing laws with regard to penalizing the illegal transfer of funds, there is need to create stricter measures to curtail such practices, which continue to exist despite such penalties," the senator stressed in proposed Resolution 677 now pending before the Committee on Finance.
She also underscored the importance of possibly enacting a law that will prohibit or limit the term of members from the same family to hold high positions in the same administration, whether such positions have been acquired due to election or appointment.
Santiago's proposal was an offshoot of a Commission on Audit report which disclosed that "Tesda had transferred over P58 million to nongovernment organizations in 2005 and 2008 to implement a program that provided school supplies to students in Iloilo's second district".
Citing COA, Santiago said Tesda's director-general at that time was Augusto Syjuco, the incumbent representative of Iloilo's second district who was also its congressman before he took the helm of Tesda; in the interim, his wife Judy Syjuco, won the congressional seat.
"In its 2010 report, COA found that P20M from the agency's central office was granted to the Tagipusuon Cooperative while P38.12M from its Region VI office was transferred to the Tagipusuon Foundation. The transfer was reportedly highly irregular because it was not part of Tesda's mandate."
In a statement issued by incumbent Tesda director-general Joel Villanueva, he claimed that (Augusto) Syjuco's pronouncement that "funds of the agency were not used in the questionable spending for an education project in his province in 2005 and 2008 was inaccurate."
"Contrary to his claims, Tesda released P20M in 2005 as counterpart fund to the Tagipusuon Foundation, which was later on channeled to the Tagipusuon Cooperative, to match the P20M that came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of then Iloilo Rep. Judy Syjuco, his wife," Villanueva stressed.
He added that "the same organization was the beneficiary of another P43.5M in 2008 to 2009 purportedly coming from Mrs. Syjuco's PDAF. Of this amount, P38.12M was being questioned by COA because of its illegal transfer to the cooperative."
Tesda said there are no liquidation reports available as of the moment of the PDAF funds but for the P20M Tesda counterpart fund, a total of P15.77M has been liquidated (P14.7M as first liquidation, P776, 641 and P297,818 were refunded by Tesda Region VI and Tagipusuon, respectively).
"While the P20M and the P43.5M came from PDAF, the fact that it was held in trust to the Tesda central office then later on to Tesda Region VI as acknowledged by Syjuco himself makes the spending subject to the agency's rules and regulations. Clearly, distribution of school supplies to student-beneficiaries, for which the money was spent, was not part of Tesda's mandate," Villanueva said.
"We are standing pat behind the findings of COA and our own investigation that there were irregularities in the use of the funds. We intend to get to the bottom of things," he added. (CGC)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 01, 2012.