MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) has uncovered irregularities in the use of nearly half a billion pesos released by the national government for the construction of farm-to-market roads in Maguindanao province during the Arroyo administration.
The COA report obtained by ABS-CBN News showed three out of four farm-to-market roads in Maguindanao that were allotted some P500 million funds by government were hardly built or not built at all.
The report also said that most of the money was supposedly spent for gasoline purchased from a service station owned by the Ampatuans, the ruling clan in the province.
Senior members of the clan have been accused of ordering the killing of at least 57 people, including journalists, in the province two years ago.
According to Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil delos Reyes, the release of the money for the road projects in Maguindanao was suspiciously fast, and happened 2 months before the gruesome massacre.
Based on government documents, former budget chief Rolando Andaya signed a Special Allocation Release Order (SARO) for the P500 million road projects on June 1, 2009, and his agency released a Notice of Cash Allocation the next day.
In September, the Maguindanao provincial government reported that the projects were already completed. The Maguindanao massacre occurred two months later, in the morning of November 23.
On the anomalous infrastructure projects, suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan, brother of the prime suspect in the massacre, Andal Ampatuan Jr., alleged that former president Gloria Arroyo received P200 million in kickbacks.
A draft copy of the COA report has been submitted to the Office of the President.