27 January 2012

The statement of Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco, former Director General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was inaccurate when he claimed that funds of the agency were not used in the questionable spending for an education project in his province in 2005 and 2008.
Contrary to his claims, TESDA released P20 million in 2005 as counterpart fund to the Tagipusuon Foundation, which was later on channeled to the Tagipusuon Cooperative, to match the P20 million fund that came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of then Iloilo Representative Judy Syjuco, his wife.

The same organization was the beneficiary of another P43.5 million in 2008 to 2009 purportedly coming from Mrs. Syjuco's PDAF. Of this amount, P38.12 million was being questioned by the Commission on Audit because of its illegal transfer to the cooperative.

There are no liquidation reports available as of the moment of the PDAF funds, but for the P20 million TESDA counterpart fund, a total of P15.77 million has been liquidated (P14.7 as first liquidation, P776, 641 and P297,818 were refunded by  TESDA Region VI and  Tagipusuon, respectively).

About P4.2 million of the TESDA counterpart fund remains unliquidated as of the moment.

While the P20 million and the P43.5 million came from PDAF, the fact that it was held in trust to the TESDA central office, then later on to TESDA's Region VI office as acknowledged by Syjuco himself makes the spending subject to the agency's rules and regulations.  Clearly, distribution of school supplies to students-beneficiaries, for which the money was spent, was not part of TESDA's mandate.
As for the P20 million TESDA counterpart fund, it should be understandable that its use should be in accordance with the agency’s regulations.
COA Audit Circular No. 96-003 on the guidelines for the release of fund assistance to non-government organizations states that the release should be in accordance with a specific schedule depending on the project’s completion. Such schedule was not observed in this case.
Attention should be given, too, to the fact that the fund from Mrs. Syjucos' PDAF was coursed through TESDA and then to the final beneficiary, the Tagipusuon Cooperative, a conduit partner of the congresswoman’s office in implementing her programs.
Thus, the money just went around – from the wife's PDAF to the agency manned by the husband then back to the cooperative. Doesn’t this reek of conflict of interest because of the relationship of the congresswoman to the TESDA chief?
We are standing pat behind the findings of the Commission on Audit and our own investigation that there were irregularities in the use of the funds. We intend to get to the bottom of things.

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