COA flags Mingla officials over Covid-19 hazard pay

·3 min read

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has called the attention of Minglanilla’s local officials after finding that the town paid P8.9 million in Covid-19 hazard pay to 546 officials and employees of 12 barangays last year.

In their 2020 annual audit report, state auditors said the Municipal Government provided Covid-19 hazard pay to the barangay officials and employees even though only municipal employees were entitled to it.

According to the COA, audit reports of the Municipality’s transactions revealed that only officials and employees of 12 out of the 19 barangays in Minglanilla received the Covid-19 hazard pay.

The payments were made through cash advances and were paid in checks signed by Minglanilla Municipal Administrator Concordio “Cording” Mejias.

The barangays that received the hazard pay were Cuanos, Ward 4, Manduang, Pakigne, Tunghaan, Camp 8, Ward 2, Tulay, Tungkop, Ward 1, Candulawan and Ward 3.

Recipients of the hazard pay included barangay captains, barangay councilors, Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen and councilors, barangay secretaries, barangay treasurers, tanods, barangay health workers, utility and janitorial employees, gender and development focal persons, maintenance drivers, daycare workers, street sweepers and barangay nutrition scholars.

The barangay officials and their employees were paid for their services rendered for 36 days, from March 31 to May 19, 2020.

State auditors also found that while the town released P8.9 million for the hazard pay to the 12 barangays, only P5.4 million reached the 12 barangays with the remaining P3.4 million still to be accounted for.

According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) circular on the granting of Covid-19 hazard pay, only workers who have been hired by the local government unit (LGU) for regular, contractual and casual positions are entitled to receive hazard pay.

The DBM guidelines also mentioned that the granting of Covid-19 hazard pay to employees and other workers in LGUs, including those in the barangays, who physically report for work during the quarantine period, and have adopted similar work arrangements shall be determined by their respective Councils, depending on the LGUs’ financial capability, at rates not exceeding P500 per day per person and subject to personal services limitations in LGU budgets in case of regular personnel, available maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) allotment in case of casual and job order workers, among others.

“The payment by the Municipality of the hazard pay to barangay officials and employees constitutes irregular disbursements considering that they are not considered as officials and employees of the Municipality in violation of Item 4 of DBM Budget Circular No. 2020-1. Moreover, the Municipality and the Barangay have their own respective Sanggunian and operate as a separate budgeting unit subject to budgetary limitation by law,” state auditors added.

State auditors recommended a refund from the barangay officials and employees who were given hazard pay or the amount disbursed by the town will be disallowed in the audit.

But in their official management comment to the COA, Minglanilla officials said they paid hazard pay to barangay officials and employees since they were on duty during the pandemic.

They also plan to revisit the DBM’s budget circular in order to assess their transaction. (JKV)

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