MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Panfilo Lacson is planning to recommend to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile the issuance of a circular detailing the Commission on Audit’s rules on the liquidation of the Senate’s billions of pesos in funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).
Lacson, the chair of the Senate committee on accounts, said there’s no need for Congress to do away with Concurrent Resolution No. 10 that in effect allowed the Senate and the House of Representatives to liquidate expenses through mere certifications signed by lawmakers instead of submitting official receipts.
“I’m recommending the issuance of a circular by the Senate President to be affirmed by at least the majority of the senators, detailing the new guidelines on the liquidation of expenses based on COA’s guidance,” Lacson said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Lacson earlier said that Congress had done away with its practice of liquidating millions of pesos for MOOE through certifications.
He made the revelation following the meeting on Wednesday between congressional leaders and Commission on Audit chair Grace Pulido-Tan.
“(We) agreed to submit ourselves to the disposition of COA and COA explicitly expressed that it would no longer accept liquidation by certification, at least prospectively, starting 2013,” Lacson said.
The development came in the wake of the Senate funds controversy triggered by Enrile’s release in December of P1.6 million each in additional MOOE to 18 senators and his grant of P250,000 each to all his colleagues from his office’s savings.
“It goes without saying that COA no longer recognizes liquidation by certification. It goes without saying Concurrent Resolution No. 10 is no longer in effect,” Lacson said.
“We have no option actually. That’s what the COA said with their mandate under the constitution so we agreed… Both houses agreed. The Speaker was present and so was the chairman of the accounts committee [of the House]. The COA chair was present,” he added.
Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who engaged Enrile in a bitter exchange in the Senate plenary over the use of Senate funds, acknowledged that the decision to follow COA’s strict rules on liquidation of expenses “was a good first step.”
Cayetano, nonetheless, said the COA’s investigation should result in making those who may have violated laws in the course of using the Senate’s funds accountable.
“We cannot sweep this under the rug,” Cayetano said in a telephone interview.