Audit finds PH lost $2.46B to anomalies

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 06 2012 03:56 PM | Updated as of Oct 07 2012 07:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines lost $2.46 billion through misuse of state funds and assets during the latter years of graft-tainted ex-president Gloria Arroyo's rule, government auditors said Saturday.

The Commission on Audit highlighted anomalies that mostly occurred in the 2007-2009 period in its investigation of more than 61,000 government agencies last year.

"Most audit findings categorically indicate pecuniary loss on the part of the government, as a result of violations of law, rules and regulations," said the report, first posted on its website Saturday.

More than 4,000 cases of unauthorized expenses, unaccounted for cash advances, uncollected duties, fictitious claims, missing assets, or abandoned projects, cost the government P101.82 billion ($2.46 billion), it said.

The total is equivalent to 5.6 percent of the country's budget this year.

Its conditional cash transfer program, where poor families get monthly stipends in exchange for keeping their children in school, could not account for P3.77 billion.

Two state banks lent large sums unsecured by hard collateral, while Manila airport left 21 abandoned aircraft parked in an area exposed to natural elements, leading to their deterioration, despite being given funding to house them.

Among the biggest items were P1.862 billion in cash advances to two government treasurers in the impoverished province of Maguindanao and P1.123 billion in payments to "spurious" suppliers to a Muslim self-rule area.

Chief state auditor Grace Tan said in a letter sent to Manila newspapers Saturday that the audit covered items mostly relating to accounts prior to 2010, when Aquino was elected to office on an anti-corruption platform.

"Pecuniary loss does not necessarily result from graft, and it is only the courts that can make judgment of graft," Tan said.

Aquino has asked a special anti-graft prosecutor to file criminal charges against people deemed responsible for 744 of the cases, the auditors said.

The other cases are under investigation.

Arroyo was arrested and detained at a military hospital in Manila on Thursday after allegedly using diverting P366 million in state lottery funds meant for charity programs into her election campaign kitty.

After being president for nearly 10 years, Arroyo was initially charged in November last year with vote fraud for allegedly conspiring to rig the 2007 senatorial elections, but later posted bail.

Her spokesmen did not reply to AFP's requests for comment.

Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters Saturday: "We have not become complacent in our anti-corruption measures."

© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse