UN offers assistance in fund malversation probe

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2011 10:03 AM | Updated as of Feb 16 2011 11:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations on Tuesday offered to assist the Philippine government in its investigation of the alleged malversation of UN peacekeeping funds intended for Filipino troops sent to East Timor.



In a statement, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations said that while the alleged diversion of UN funds is a national matter, it assured that the UN "will assist if requested" by the Philippine government.



It added that as of February 12, 2011, the DPKO “has not received inquiries/complaints at this stage from any specific contingent regarding payment.”



Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza earlier revealed that UN funds were diverted by military officials through double charging and ghost projects.



She said one project involved the repair of a C-130 aircraft in 2002, which was double charged to both the UN fund and a depot maintenance program the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG).



She said P9.1 million in fuel expenses were also double charged to the Balikatan and UN funds. Even worse, the US government reimbursed the Armed Forces the full P9.1 million.



She said that in 2001, a military officer personally picked up a $5 million cheque from UN Headquarters in New York but the amount was not reflected in AFP bank accounts.



She also revealed a missing P50 million out of a P200 million UN reimbursement cheque signed by then military comptroller Carlos Garcia.



For its part, the UN said it does "not enforce measures to keep track of how (UN peacekeeping) funds are used or disbursed by the Member States."



The DPKO said all payments covering expenses related to peacekeeping operations are made in accordance with standard procedures. “The UN deposits the funds into a bank account given to the UN by the relevant Troop and Police Contributing Countries (TCCs and PCCs),” the DPKO stated.



In the case of the Philippines, “since the [Philippine Government’s] contribution of troops to the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) peace operation in 1999, all Contingent Owned Equipment (COE) payments made to the Government of the Philippines have been issued under cover letters to the Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission of the Philippines. These payment instructions are received by the UN in writing from the Permanent Mission and signed by the Philippine Ambassador to the United States,” said the DPKO.



Reimbursements of peacekeeping related expenses are paid to Member States either by cheque or wire transfer. Before 1 July 2005, a Government could elect to be paid by cheque or wire transfer. After that date, only bank wire transfer has been used.



The chief of the AFP Resource Management Office earlier said there were no records available on how the UN funds were used prior to 2005.