By Elizabeth Marcelo, July 1 2018; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) has called out the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over its failure to utilize P3.859 billion of its allocated budget for 2017, the largest portion of which was for its modernization program.

In an annual audit report posted on its website on Friday, COA noted that while the AFP General Headquarters has posted a 95.5 percent fund obligation rate in 2017, the amount of the unutilized allocated fund “hinders the attainment” of the military’s targeted programs and activities under the AFP Modernization Program.

The report showed that of the P86.035 billion allocated by Congress for the AFP-GHQ in 2017, 95.5 percent or P82.17 billion was obligated while 4.49 percent or P3.859 billion remains unutilized as of year-end.

The COA said of the unutilized amounts, 78.43 percent or P3.027 billion was intended for the AFP Modernization Program, while 19.44 percent or P750 million was allocated to serve as the AFP’s calamity fund, 1.81 percent or P69.87 million as pension fund and the remaining 0.32 percent or P12.310 million as “contingent and other funds.”

The COA’s breakdown showed that of the unused budget for AFP modernization, a total of P1.676 billion was intended for acquisition of civil engineering equipment including dozer, grader, tractor and trailers, among others; P876.196 million was intended for acquisition of 50,000 units of pistol; P5.559 million for acquisition of 145 units reflex sight and a medium lift fixed wing aircraft; P520,450 for basing and hangar construction; P454.046 million for acquisition of 3rd Weather High Endurance Cutter (WHEC); and P5.901 million for a radar basing support system project.

The COA said majority of the programmed modernization projects were not implemented due to delays in procurement activities. It noted that even the projects identified in 2016 are still undergoing procurement processes.

As for the unutilized calamity fund, COA said there was no Physical and Financial Work Plan for 2017, which should have identified the specific activities to be undertaken and to serve as guide in the disbursement of funds.

“As a result, no obligation/disbursement was incurred during the year,” the COA said.

The COA said the unutilized pension fund “pertains to prior years’ pension differential arrearages which were not obligated as of yearend.”

No explanation was provided in the report for the unused contingent fund.

“We recommended and (AFP) management agreed that programs, projects and activities to be undertaken must be properly planned to ensure the attainment of the goals of the (AFP) and that its accomplishment must be within the targeted budget for programs/activities,” the COA said.