SC orders PMO to look into WB loan issue

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2012 06:13 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2012 02:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered its Project Management Office(PMO) to look into issue of the World Bank's memorandum on the "unsatisfactory" progress of the high court's loan.

Court Administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the WB project has been going on since 2003.

The period covers during the terms of Chief Justices Artemio Panganiban, Reynato Puno, and Renato Corona.
Marquez said Corona is "actually inheriting" the WB project.

"Some of the projects were not finished during the term of CJ Puno, Panganiban, and now being finished by CJ Corona," Marquez said.

"Lets give the PMO an opportunity to address the issue. More than anyone, it should be the PMO of the Court which could explain..." Marquez said.

House probe looms

Party-list lawmakers have filed a resolution seeking a house probe into the alleged misuse of a $21.9-million World Bank loan to the Supreme Court.

Bayan Muna's Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares said there is a need to get to the bottom of the controversy.

They adding that the money may be one of the sources of Chief Justice Renato Corona alleged unexplained wealth.

A similar bill has been filed at the Senate by finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon.

The World Bank loan was meant for reforms in the judiciary, but part of it was supposedly used to pay for airfare, accommodations, and dinners at luxury hotels of some court officials.

World Bank confirms memo

The World Bank confirmed on Tuesday "ineligible expenditures" as contained in an aide memoire in connection with the project intended for judicial reforms.

In a statement, the bank said "the Aide Memoire summarized the findings and recommendations of the mission, pointing out implementation issues that included some ineligible expenditures. The [Judicial Reform Support Project] is scheduled to close on June 30, 2012 and the focus for the remaining period is to bring the project to a closure."
ABS-CBN News came out with a story last week on the aide memoire, but some parties questioned the authenticity of the report. 
Malacañang on Tuesday said it has also verified the report with the World Bank itself.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said he was one of 13 officials given a copy of the aide memoire. - with a report from ANC