COA: GMA got P98.6M from PNoy's social fund

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2011 12:00 AM | Updated as of Aug 17 2011 06:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) on Tuesday told lawmakers at the House Appropriations Committee that then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo advanced P98.6 million from the President's Social Fund (PSF) that should have been left to then-incoming President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.

COA chairperson Grace Tan said they found about this in the ongoing audit of the President's Social Fund (PSF).

Tan told lawmakers the P98.6 million was advanced in May 2010 from the June 2010 PSF, which should have already been under the control of President Benigno Aquino III who took over in June 30, 2010.

She said the P98.6 million was part of the P345 million supposedly remitted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to the PSF in May 2010.

Tan confirmed Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares' previous claim that vouchers for the release of the P345 million barangays in districts represented by Arroyo's sons were cancelled in May 2010 at the last minute and instead remitted to the PSF.

Tan said, "We have the same figures. We have found these were remitted to the PSF and receipted by the PSF. Part of this P98.3 million was taken from the June 2010 PSF. May advance. Inadvance na dun, nagalaw din po."

She said the COA is now looking if the P345 million was still paid out to the barangays from the PSF.

Tan said the COA is now doing its audit for 2010 of government agencies, and that includes remittances to and disbursements from the President's social funds.

In a previous budget hearing, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares noted that the 2nd district of Pampanga and the 2nd district of Camarines Sur were supposed to receive a total of P1 million for each barangay from the PAGCOR as financial assistance on the instructions of Arroyo herself.

At that time, Arroyo's sons Mikey and Dato represented the districts. Arroyo herself ran for Mikey's seat in the 2010 elections.

Colmenares previously noted that the money were supposed to be remitted to the districts in May 2010 but the vouchers for these were cancelled at the last minute and the money was instead remitted to the Presidential Social Fund.

Colmenares tried to ask PAGCOR to find out if the amount was still disbursed to the districts from the PSF.

"The disbursement would be from Malacañan already. Binigay ng PAGCOR sa Malacañan so disbursement would be made by OP (Office of the President) already and that's something we are in the process of auditing, 2010 na yan medyo nahuhuli pa po. Audit of PFS is forthcoming in process," he said.

Pre-auditing policy

In the same budget hearing of Congress, the COA also announced that it is keeping its policy of pre-auditing government projects but only for some agencies like the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Tan made an example of the alleged purchase of second-hand PNP choppers as something that got passed the pre-audit scheme of the PNP.

Tan said they have a lot of data that were not captured during the auditing but are now unfolding, such as the PNP choppers.

She explained that they did away with the pre-audit system for some agencies that had a good record so that the COA does not unduly delay any government project.

"The lifting of pre-audit is not total. We will still do it but on a risk based approach. Per transaction basis iyan," she said.

Tan noted the pre-audit system in the PNP is weak. "PNP mahina. Northrail walang internal control, we began special audit of Northrail. Nag-identify kami ng agencies that have been able to escape net at hindi na-audit meticulously or agencies na year-to-year adverse ang findings like AFP, PNP. There will still be pre-audit in those instances.