Senate to probe missing P1.6B in ARMM

by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2012 09:42 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2012 06:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate blue ribbon and finance committees will investigate where P1.6 billion in premiums collected for state benefits in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) went.

During a hearing on the region's proposed 2013 budget on Monday, ARMM caretaker governor Mujiv Hataman revealed that P1.6 billion in Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), PagIBIG Fund, and PhilHealth premiums collected from 2001 to 2010 are unaccounted for.

"There were ghost employees so that a total of P1.6 billion in GSIS, PagIBIG, and PhilHealth premiums could not be located," Senate finance committee Franklin Drilon told reporters after the hearing.

"Thousands of teachers sometimes could not avail of the benefits of the GSIS because premiums were collected, but there was no record of remittance," he added.

Because of this, Drilon said P500 million from the ARMM's P13.998 billion budget will be allocated for government employees' GSIS benefits.

Drilon is confident that Hataman will effectively carry out the reforms the administration wants for the ARMM, calling him a "ghost buster."

He said Hataman removed the "ghosts" in the ARMM, such as non-existent voters contractors, and employees, among others.

"All of these contributed to the corruption in the past," the senator said.