Gov't urged to account for Malampaya fund

by RG Cruz,

Posted at Aug 14 2013 06:51 PM | Updated as of Aug 16 2013 03:01 AM

MANILA - Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares wants the Aquino administration to account for the Malampaya funds, alleging that part of these were diverted to non-energy related projects in congressional districts.

The proceeds from operations of the Malampaya gas fields off Palawan are meant to be spent on energy- related projects nationwide.

Due to a decree, Colmenares said the funds may also be diverted to other projects approved by the President.

Calling the Malampaya fund as a form of "presidential pork," Colmenares said collections since 2002 have reached P173 billion.

About P38 billion has been spent without the benefit of congressional scrutiny, he said.

Malampaya funds are considered off-budget sources of income for government.

Colmenares is afraid that the Malampaya funds may be used in the 2016 elections.

Based on available information, he alleged the Department of Public Works and Highways got P8.02 billion, the Department of Agriculture with P5.8 billion, and the Department of Defense/Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines with P7.3 billion.

“In contrast, energy entities like the National Power Corporation got P6.6 billion while the National Electrification Administration got P1.9 billion,” he said.

Other agencies got smaller amounts, like the Department of Education with P5 million, Department of Social Welfare and Development with P34 million, and Department of Science and Technology with P400,000, he said.

“Sabi namin, pinipili ng presidente paano ang bigayan, saang distrito at anong proyekto. Ang talagang assumption dito, the presidential pork is not a good way of spending public funds," he said.

Colmenares fears the Malampaya funds may have been diverted to other agencies.

He noted that based on 2012 and 2013 records, some agencies like the departments of Energy and Justice spent more than their budget.

In the case of the DOJ, it already overshot its 2013 budget by around P1 billion, he said.

Colmenares said that based on a Budget department memorandum, the executive can impound funds unspent by the middle of the year and realign them to other agencies.

During Tuesday's budget hearing, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said the Malampaya funds are merely collected by the Department of Energy but remitted directly to Malacanang.

Colmenares also wants the Aquino Administration to account for all disbursements from the lump sum accounts of the national budget.

Under the law, disbursements from the lump sum accounts must be reported quarterly to the Senate committee on Finance and the House appropriations committee.

House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora also said there is a need for oversight on the the Malampaya funds as well as other lump sums.

“[There will be] all sorts of abuses if nobody will exercise overview or review functions. Look at what the NBI and the DOJ are looking into, the P900 million did no go to energy-related project but to various agrarian reform projects up in the north.” – from a report by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News