MANILA - More than P670 million in lawmakers' pork barrel funds and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) allocations for Filipino Muslims still went to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) in 2013 despite probes into alleged anomalies in fund use, the Commission on Audit (COA) found.
In a 2013 COA report released yesterday, state auditors said P670.306 million worth of projects that were supposed to benefit Filipino Muslims were implemented by possibly bogus NGOs and people’s organizations (POs).
State auditors said there was again an improper selection of NGOs and POs implementing the projects funded by DAP allocations and Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.
Records show that in 2013, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) released P155.596 million to various groups.
But COA said the releases did not pass through the proper selection process because concerned lawmakers were again allowed to identify their choice of NGOs or POs as evidenced by letters they sent to the agency’s secretary.
COA pointed out that the selection of NGOs and POs that will implement PDAF and DAP-funded projects “should be undertaken by NCMF because the funds were released to NCMF, thus, it is duty bound to account for the funds to the government and/or to the beneficiaries.
“The continuous practice of allowing the lawmakers to select the NGOs and POs to implement the PDAF and DAP was not in accordance with items 4.5.2 and 4.5.2 of COA Circular No. 2007-001,” COA added.
The NCMF admitted that lawmakers endorsed NGOs to undertake their PDAF projects and explained that this had been the practice in all other agencies that were recipients of PDAF soft projects.
Meanwhile, the audit team conducted an ocular inspection on Jan. 7 to 15, 2014. They found that of 21 NGOs that received PDAF and DAP funds, 12 were without offices at given addresses, 10 with unlocated addresses, seven with located addresses but unknown in the area, six with offices at given addresses, one with located address but already moved out, 18 were without financial and accounting records, 18 without separate savings account and three not inspected for security reasons.
Only four NGOs – I-Help Foundation Inc., Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc., Coprahan at Gulayan Foundation Inc. and Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc. – have their offices at the given addresses and with tarpaulin signage hung outside their residential units.
“In the case of BL Personal Touch Foundation Inc., while the given address was located, no office was observed to be maintained by the NGO. On the other hand, Rich Islas de Filipinas Foundation, Inc. was located inside the informal settlers’ area at the back of Petron gasoline station in Philcoa. Sinag ng Kaunlaran at Pagasa Foundation was located, but the office has no signage. Below the office was a used car showroom, apparently a buy and sell business. Although it was alleged that the office was maintained by the NGO, we believed that the same office was used for another business venture,” state auditors said in the report.
“Sinag ng Kaunlaran at Pagasa Foundation was a newly created NGO and barely eight months in existence without any certified proof that it had implemented similar projects when it received the fund transfer. Despite its non-qualification, NCMF accredited and qualified it to receive fund, contrary to the provision of COA Circular No. 2007-001.
“Since the ocular inspection was conducted, one to two years after the implementation of the project, the nonexistence of the addresses provided by most of the recipient NGOs/POs and the offices maintained by some of them which were no longer located was an indication that upon completion of the PDAF projects, they possibly ceased or stopped operation and/or probably involved in illegitimate business ventures,” state auditors added.
The COA report called on the NCMF to conduct an in-depth investigation to verify the existence of beneficiaries and projects and file appropriate charges against the responsible officers and employees, if warranted.
Agency officials reasoned that at the time the inspection was done in 2014, almost two years had lapsed from the time of the accreditation of these NGOs and implementation of their projects and it was possible that some of the NGOs had moved or closed office.
“Finally, although these NGOs can no longer be located in their offices, their representatives constantly communicate with NCMF for the submission of documentary requirements,” they added.
Questionable liquidation reports
The COA also found that documents supporting the fund transfers to various NGOs or POs in relation to the implementation of PDAF and DAP projects totaling P670,306,300 and their liquidations totaling P451,779,700 as of Dec. 31, 2013 were insufficient. This runs counter to Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.
State auditors said P324,710,000 worth of projects that were post-audited lacked various documents and proof of proper utilization, including list and photographs of similar projects previously completed by the NGOs or POs; inspection reports of the livelihood starter and/or technological kits procured; Certificate of Project Completion issued by the NCMF authorized representative; and Final Accomplishment Report duly validated by NCMF representative.
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