MANILA - Unliquidated cash advances in government accumulated through the years as of December 31, 2011 amounted to P5 billion, Commission on Audit (COA) Chair Grace Pulido-Tan told the Senate Committee on Finance Monday.
Tan later told reporters that the COA is preparing to file charges of malversation against government employees, officials, as well as entities that have not liquidated cash transfers to government.
The respondents may reach at least 100, Tan estimates.
“The whole gamut na ‘yan, NGOs, CSOs, government agencies, government employees, etcetera, nandoon na lahat ‘yan, it’s about 5 billion,” Tan said.
After the COA came out with a notice published on newspapers in 2012, an estimated P1.6 billion have been liquidated, with around P3.4 billion more unaccounted for.
The amount is on top of the amount involved in the pork barrel scam as indicated in the COA special audit report.
“Kaya lumutang ‘yan kasi nakita ko nga, ‘Ano ba 'to, ano ba 'to, puro na lang unliquidated, unliquidated, year-in, year-out.’ Taon-taon meron kaming finding na ganoon. So in 2012, we came up with a notice and that was published in the newspapers, asking all of these people who have not liquidated, we’re making a final demand, magbayad na kayo or mag-liquidate kayo, kung hindi kakasuhan namin kayo,” she said.
“In law, there is a presumption, that if you are entrusted with money, you are accountable for some money, and then you do not liquidate or account for it after demand or within the period, tapos tinanong ka, hindi mo pa rin siya nili-liquidate, there is already a presumption that that money was malversed.”
Tan admits government may not be able to run after each liable government employee, since some of them may already be dead, have left the country, or have resigned from government service.
“While we have the records, we have their names, their addresses, we doubt if we will be able to trace everyone,” she said.
She said that given the sheer number of liable employees to run after, the COA and the Ombudsman agreed on a “threshold amount” to determine where to file the cases.
“’Pag one million above ‘yung hindi nali-liquidate, papasok namin sa Ombudsman. ‘Pag less, we will work it with the Civil Service Commission on the assumption na itong mga taong involved ay nasa gobyerno pa,” she said.
“We just hope that with what we are doing now, we are sending a clear message to everyone that you cannot get away with this forever. Some may be able to get away but somehow kailangan ding may managot.”
NO LAW AUTHORIZING FUND TRANSFER TO NGOs
Meantime, Tan told the committee that there is no law authorizing the transfer of government funds to NGOs, except for Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under the Administrative Code and an Estrada-era executive order, and local government units under the Local Government Code.
“Presently, under existing law, what we found out is that except for the local government and the DSWD, there is no other law we’ve seen that really grants authority to government to download money or funds to NGOs for project implementation,” she said.
“‘Yung TLRC [Technology Livelihood Resource Center], ‘yung NABCOR [National Agribusiness Corp.], ‘yung ZREC [ Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation] at saka yung mga implementing agencies na ginamit doon, wala pong ganoong authority from law that would authorize them to download or transfer the funds to the NGOs,” she added, referring to agencies found to have served as conduit of PDAF funds to questionable NGOs.
Tan said that the COA will come up with rules and regulations to govern NGO involvement unless Congress enacts a law.
The committee deliberated on a proposed measure to regulate NGOs and foundations that deal with government, among other proposed measures.
For now, Tan said, NGOs that wish to participate in government projects should undergo public bidding.
“Under the Procurement Act (RA 9184) which is being implemented by the GPPB [Government Procurement Policy Board], ‘yung participation po ng mga NGOs na ito is generally also by public bidding,” she said.
“The scenario is that if there is a government project, then there should be a call for bidding so that all interested NGOs can put in their bids and we follow the procedure of [Republic Act] 9184. But there is also an exception na pwedeng in certain instances nga… to go through negotiated bidding. But in any event, they should submit a performance bond.”