June 09, 2019
Corruption Philippine-style seems to continue to evolve into a fiercer, tiny two-fanged creature that burrows its way into the heart of this Christian nation, or shift into a ghostly shape that is becoming increasingly difficult to track.
That is such a painful thing to say, but who would not find it sad, if not creepy, to read of news about ghost payments made to supposedly gallant but now dead Filipinos who defended their country in the last world war?
That was exactly what the Commission on Audit (CoA) announced recently – that it had discovered 5,721 dead veterans still received their monthly pensions in 2018.
In its audit report on the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) for last year released recently, the auditors said the veterans’ office spent about P70.25 million on benefits for dead veterans and their beneficiaries in 2018.
PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina denied the audit commission’s finding, saying no pension money was missing. He said on Thursday, pensions could not be claimed after the veterans passing because banks hold the “huge” pension fund that the PVAO transfers to them.
Another report quoted Carolina as saying on Thursday: The truth is, as reported, there were over remittances in the payroll because that is unavoidable… because at the time we remitted the funds
there were veterans who had died, some of them died while the payments were in transit.”
Still, the audit commission ordered the PVAO to determine and hold liable those behind the payment of a total of P70.25 million in monthly pensions to deceased beneficiaries.
A “comparison of the payroll of pensioners and a list of reported deaths for calendar year 2018 disclosed that 5,721, or 84.5 percent out of 6,768 total reported deaths, continuously received their regular monthly pensions, which ranged from one to 65 months, thus result[ing] in the overpayment amounting to P70,250,300.00,” it said.
In its 2018 audit report, the CoA noted that of the P70.25 million overpayment made, only P33.795 million had been recovered as of year-end, while the remaining 51.89 percent, or P36.454 million, had not been refunded.
It would be fairly understandable if payment to a deceased veteran, through his relatives, was made for only one month.
But to continue paying the dead soldier, again through his kin, for the next 64 months could mean that the PVAO resurrected the dead, thus the ghost payment of the veteran’s pension.
Possibly also finding incredulous the veterans’ office doing a Lazarus, the audit commission insisted, “We [recommend] that [the PVAO] management determine the role and participation of each official/employee involved in the process of pension benefits and hold them liable therefor.”
It dismissed the PVAO’s explanation that the recovered amount would be used for the payment of accrued pensions or pensions due other pensioners.
Despite the unfavorable report, the CoA still commended the PVAO for implementing a simplified validation program, which supposedly made the system of verifying the life/marital status of the pensioners more efficient.
Efficiency, however, does not necessarily translate to effectiveness in this case, unless of course, the ghosts of our valiant war heroes come back to haunt those who have been pocketing their monthly pensions.
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net