COA: PET in 'unnecessary indebtedness' of P5 million to Marcos, P8 million to Robredo

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2023 02:34 PM

MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has recommended to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to notify President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and former Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw their unused amount of P13.317 million intended for the 2016 vice presidential electoral protest expenditures.

In the 2022 audit report on the PET, state auditors noted that Robredo has an unutilized cash deposit of P8.164 million while Marcos Jr. has a balance of P5.152 million.

The cash deposits were intended to cover expenses such as the delivery of ballot boxes and election paraphernalia to the tribunal and their return after the case is terminated.

“The inability of management to return the unutilized excess cash deposits of protesting parties is not in conformity with Rule 33 of the 2010 Rules of PET, and place PET in unnecessary indebtedness from a private individual and the President of the Philippine Government,” the state auditors said.

The Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, dismissed Marcos Jr.'s electoral protest in 2021 after he "failed to substantiate his allegations of massive anomalies and irregularities."

The PET, for its part, said that it has already issued a resolution dated March 8, 2023 which directed its Fiscal Management and Budget Office (FMBO) to advise the parties to claim their deposits.

The audit report also noted that the total cash advances utilized for Naga, Iloilo and Dumaguete cities, the pilot areas for the protest, amounted to P7.064 million.

The report however said that the PET claimed the audit on the cash advances that were granted and liquidated was without legal basis.

“Management further commented that the absence of any iota of legal basis, the audit team cannot validly conduct an audit over funds that are not public in character, i.e., cash deposits in the Fiduciary Fund, in accordance with its auditing rules and regulations for lack of jurisdiction,” the audit team noted.

The audit team also mentioned in their report the non-remittance of the filing fees of parties totaling P415,277.80 to the Judiciary Development Fund.

Included in the non-remitted fees were those of the late Fernando Poe, Jr., Loren Legarda, Noli de Castro and Gloria Arroyo, amounting to P50,000 each.

The filing fee for Marcos Jr. and Robredo cost P100,000 each.

“Management, during the conduct of the exit conference, commented that the FMBO will study and create the procedural guidelines of remitting the PET filing fees to the JDF,” the audit team said.

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