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9 Metro mayors ordered to return P331-M PDAF

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 03:36 AM November 28, 2014
Mayors Herbert Bautista, Joseph Estrada, Junjun Binay and Vergel Aguilar. FILE PHOTOS

Mayors Herbert Bautista, Joseph Estrada, Junjun Binay and Vergel Aguilar. FILE PHOTOS

Give the money back.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has directed the mayors of nine cities in Metro Manila to return to the National Treasury more than P331.7 million in unused pork barrel funds released to them by several lawmakers.

In its annual financial report for 2013, the COA said about P1.106 billion from the graft-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) remained with various local governments more than a year after the Supreme Court struck down the pork barrel as unconstitutional.

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“Strictly adhere to the pertinent provisions of the Supreme Court decision,” the COA told the mayors in its 918-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer.

COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza submitted the report to President Benigno Aquino III, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Sept. 25.

The COA said the audit report was “prepared in the hope that it will serve as a useful and reliable tool for crafting policies that would enhance local governance.”

“A meaningful audit would assure the public and taxpayers that the funds and other resources used for various programs, projects and activities were expended and reported in accordance with laws, rules and regulations, and that operational performance were achieved in an economic, efficient and effective manner,” it said.

QC is tops

Of the 16 cities and one town in the National Capital Region, state auditors said Quezon City had the biggest unspent pork barrel funds, with more than P142.8 million.

The report did not identify the lawmakers who channeled pork to Quezon City, whose mayor, Herbert Bautista, is an ally of President Aquino.

The COA also demanded that the Quezon City officials account for close to P173.5 million in unused pork barrel, which the city government distributed to various nongovernment organizations and people’s organizations.

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Liquidation required

The COA said the Quezon City government should “compel” those organizations “to liquidate the PDAF… transferred to them in accordance with the provisions of the subject [memorandum of agreements] entered between them and the city.”

It directed the city government to submit the required documents and written explanation for the deficiencies found in the postaudit of vouchers for expenditures by the city, transfer of funds to those organizations and liquidation of the PDAF.

“Otherwise, the subject transactions will be suspended or disallowed in audit for noncompliance,” the COA said.

In addition, the COA ordered the city government to immediately submit the liquidation report for more than P19 million it released to different government agencies.

The city administrator said the municipal government was ready to return the money.

Makati, too

The COA also directed Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay to remit nearly P54.8 million of the city government’s unused PDAF to the state treasury.

“We have recommended that the remaining PDAF be reverted to the unappropriated surplus of the general fund through the account of the Bureau of Treasury,” the COA said.

In the case of Las Piñas City, the COA said the city government used more than P1 million in pork barrel it had received for projects that were not among the programs that could be funded by the PDAF.

The city government also spent more than P5.8 million of the funds, but the items purchased were not recorded, the COA said.

Las Piñas

The COA ordered Las Piñas Mayor Vergel Aguilar to turn over to the National Treasury the city government’s unspent PDAF amounting to about P47.84 million.

Jimmy Castillano, city public information officer, said the municipal government would issue a statement about the COA report on Friday.

Other cities with unspent pork barrel funds are Manila (P31.868 million), Malabon (P4.183), Navotas (P18.499), Pasig (P18.681 million) and Valenzuela (P1.491 million).

San Juan City was also ordered to return unspent pork barrel funds, but the report did not indicate the amount the city needed to return to the national government.

Order to Estrada

Besides the unspent pork barrel funds, the COA also ordered Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to remit P11.6 million in unused Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds. The Supreme Court declared the DAP unconstitutional on July 1.

The COA said P236,000 of the amount was “disbursed not for its intended purpose” by the city government.

“We also recommended that should the city receive funds from the national government or from other sources with defined specific purpose, these should be utilized strictly in accordance with that purpose,” the COA said. With a report from Kristine Felisse Mangunay

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Commission On Audit, DAP, DAP funds, Disbursement Acceleration Program, Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Franklin Drilon, Heidi Mendoza, Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay, Joseph Estrada, PDAF, pork barrel scam, pork scam, Supreme Court, Vergel Aguilar
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