Where did P20 billion from Malampaya funds go?

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2013 11:29 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2013 12:52 AM

MANILA - Aside from the pork barrel of lawmakers, corruption allegations are also hounding the multibillion-peso funds from the Malampaya gas project.

The funds have already reached P165 billion from 2002 to 2013.

The Malampaya natural gas field is located off Palawan.

Government is part of a consortium that explored the deep water resources, which is why the proceeds, taxes, and other fees go to what is now known as the Malampaya fund.

The fund started in 2002 with P646 million.

In the following years, the remittance ballooned to billions of pesos annually.

The total amount remitted from 2002 to 2013 so far stands at P165 billion.

However, due to various expenditures charged to the funds, the current Malampaya money is at P127 billion.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said under the Aquino administration, P15 billion in energy-related projects were funded by Malampaya.

Petilla also said the Commission on Audit has been investigating where more than P20 billion pesos from funds went during the Arroyo administration.

COA is questioning the disbursement. In its observation, a lot of expenses charged to the funds did not go to energy-related projects.

The suspected misuse of the Malampaya funds was partly confirmed by the revelation of whistleblower Merlina Suñas.

Suñas said her group was able to source P900 million from the fund through the agrarian reform department, using bogus nongovernment organizations.
Former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said due to the massive discretion of the chief executive to the Malampaya funds, it will be best to transfer the money to the country's general funds, and Congress can scrutinize the projects which used Malampaya money.
"A power-hungry president will not give it up. Ako, nanghihinayang kung 'di nya gagawin," he said.

But Petilla said the public has to trust the president, since he is making sure the Malampaya funds are only spent on legitimate and energy-related projects. - ANC