COA: Nothing wrong with OWWA fund transfer, but…

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Apr 28 2011 01:26 PM | Updated as of Apr 28 2011 09:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - There may be nothing wrong with fund transfers from one government unit to another, but a new audit is a must to check whether these were used for its intended purpose.

In an interview with ANC, Commission on Audit Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan said the transfer of P530 million in Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is not an offense but “as to attendant circumstances of what happened to that transfer is a different story.”

Former Solicitor General Francisco “Frank” Chavez on Tuesday filed plunder complaints against the former President, former executive secretary Alberto Romulo, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco Duque III and former administrator Virgilio Angelo of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of qualified theft, graft and corruption, and violations of the Constitution, Revised Penal Code and the Omnibus Election Code.

Arroyo was accused of diverting about P530 million in OWWA funds to her 2004 presidential campaign.

Chavez said Executive Order 182, issued in 2003, allowed for the transfer of more than P530 million in OWWA funds to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). He claimed Arroyo was then able to distribute PhilHealth cards before the presidential elections.

Tan said the original COA report was specific on the fact that the fund transfer was done in 2005. This will run contrary to claims by Chavez that it was used for the 2004 campaign.

She said, however, “I’m looking for the audit team who took care of PhilHealth during that period to find out if there was any audit made [and] to check how the money transferred was spent, if at all.”

Tan said the EO was specific on how the funds will be used and “we need to see if that was followed.”