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Burying them in debt doesn’t help? COA lets DOST write off P24M loans to Pinatubo victims

The Commission on Audit (COA) has allowed the Central Luzon office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to write off P23.85 million in loans which could no longer be collected from the victims of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption.

The COA’s decision coincided with the move of the Duterte administration to extend loans to those affected by the recent Mount Taal eruption, seemingly unmindful of their ability to pay the debt back.

In its recent decision, the COA proper reversed a June 2016 ruling that disallowed the write-off and faulted the DOST for failing to exhaust all means to demand the payment of the loans which had gone dormant for 10 to 20 years.

The COA acknowledged that the “probability of collection is nil” now because the beneficiaries had no capacity to pay, had died, or could no longer be located.

It stressed, however, that the write-off was not equivalent to condonation and the agency could still demand payment if ever it could collect from the beneficiaries.

Write-offs would just allow agencies to update their assessment of current assets.

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