How are intelligence funds audited?

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at May 23 2013 06:03 PM | Updated as of May 24 2013 02:03 AM

 COA to release new set of guidelines

MANILA -- The Commission on Audit (COA) is set to release a new set of guidelines on the auditing of intelligence and confidential funds.

Speaking with radio dzMM on Thursday, COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza said they are just waiting for the go signal of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) before implementing the revised guidelines.

Under the new guidelines, Mendoza said COA will no longer allow government agencies to only submit certifications that they have spent the money. She said they will have to submit supporting documents to properly account their expenses.

She noted that not all expenses related to confidential activities shall be covered under the confidentiality rule.

"Hindi na pepwede 'yung certification lang. In-identify natin ano 'yung mga expenses na sasabihin nating directly incurred in pursuit of national security or security operations. Dinefine natin 'yan, 'yun pwede nang hindi magbigay ng supporting documents. But on other expenses na sasabihin nating mukhang hindi naman ganun ka-direct, kailangan may mga dokumento," she said.

The COA commissioner cited as an example the rental of a safehouse.

She said, "Siyempre hindi na namin kailangan makita 'yung resibo nun kasi baka mag-leak kung saan ang ginagamit na safehouse, baka rin mag-leak kung sino 'yung ginagamit na asset."

"Pero halimbawa nag-biyahe kayo sa ganitong lugar na ito kasi kayo ay mag-coconduct ng operation or what, eh 'di siyempre hahanapan namin kayo ng resibo -- ikaw ba'y nag-eroplano, nag-bus? Pero 'yung details ng report regarding that intelligence operation, hindi namin hihingin," she added.

Mendoza also said that aside from doing post-audit, COA also does value-for-money auditing and a comprehensive auditing which focuses on three Es: economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

"Titingnan po natin iyan bang ginastos niyong pera ay makatwiran...naabot ang objective ng gobyerno o napakinabangan ng ating mamamayan," she said.

Mendoza admitted that it took them a long time before they could come up with the new set of guidelines, noting that they also value national security.

"Kasi hindi mo pepwedeng i-strengthen 'yung control na mag-suffer naman 'yung confidential information lalong-lalo na parati nating sinasabi for national security. How can we argue with that, 'di ba?"

Comelec intel funds

Former poll commissioner Gus Lagman, in a statement issued on Tuesday, raised the matter of the intelligence funds poll executives supposedly get, amounting to P1.25 million in 2011.

"Sometime in 2011, I received a check payable to me for P1 million, followed a few months later by another P250,000, as 'intelligence' fund, or 'I.F.', as they referred to it. Presumably, all Commissioners received an equal amount, with the Chairman, as mentioned by one of the Commissioners, receiving double that," he added.

Lagman said he returned the money after holding on to it for a few months--and only after he felt that he was being made to sign a false liquidation.

"Thinking that there might be need for the fund in the future, I deposited it in my bank account. In early 2012, somebody from [Comelec] finance asked me to sign a document (just one sheet) that would liquidate the fund. The document basically said that I spent the amount on a variety of activities, none of which I actually did. I therefore refused to sign the document and said that I would just return the money, still untouched," he said.
The poll chief, however, feels that Lagman took things the wrong way. Sixto Brillantes said Lagman was just being shown how a liquidation should be done.

He also said there is nothing wrong with the Comelec's use of intelligence funds.

Brillantes cited the poll body's filing of electoral sabotage charges against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former Comelec commissioner Bejamin Abalos Sr. as one of the instances where the intelligence funds were used.

He also cited as another example the Comelec's release of funds for the surveillance of alleged election operators and manipulators of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Malacañang, for its part, said the Comelec's request for intelligence funds was justified and subsequently approved by the President. -- With reports from RG Cruz and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Dharel Placido,