MANILA, Philippines?Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seemed to be in a generous mood in 2009, a year before she stepped down from the presidency.
A report from the Commission on Audit (COA) showed that donations made by the Office of the President (OP) to government agencies and private groups nearly tripled last year, or from P628.544 million in 2008 to P1.743 billion in 2009 for a 177-percent increase.
Among the private groups that received P100 million was the foundation of a multibillion-peso port operator owned by a close friend of Arroyo and her husband.
?For the year 2009, the total donations account of P1,743,816,236.24, with an increase of P1,115,272,132.06 or by 177 percent from last year?s figure of P628,544,104.18, was released to various agencies/offices,? the COA said.
But the COA noted an overstatement of the account because the funds that the OP transferred to various agencies and offices, and to nongovernment and people?s organizations were improperly recorded as ?donations? instead of ?inter-agency receivables.?
Nevertheless, the COA report showed that the second district of Pampanga, which Arroyo now represents in Congress, received over P330 million from the President?s Social Fund (PSF) in 2009.
Sought for comment, Arroyo?s spokesperson, Elena Bautista-Horn, said she would look into the issue and reply accordingly.
Of the P1.743 billion listed under OP donations, P1.675 billion came from the PSF, the COA said.
The President?s office transferred P1.039 billion from the fund to local government units (LGUs), government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and national government agencies (NGAs) as financial assistance for infrastructure projects and other programs.
A third, or some P334 million, of the P1.039 billion went to Arroyo?s hometown and congressional district, the COA report said.
?Also, out of the total fund transferred to LGUs, NGAs and GOCCs, a total amount of P334,650,023.63 or 32 percent was transferred particularly to the second district of Pampanga,? it noted.
Another P486.338 million went to NGOs, people?s organizations and foundations.
The COA also said improper recording of the fund transfers under ?donations,? an expense account, did away with the source agency?s responsibility of requiring the submission of reports of checks issued and reports of disbursements.
The COA said the nonsubmission of these reports had hindered the oversight functions and duties of the auditors, despite the monitoring of the transferred fund through the financial and performance audit reports.
The commission recommended that the management require the chief accountant to comply with COA guidelines, while the OP said it would review the appropriate account to be used on the transferred funds.
The COA report found that many of the NGOs and people?s organizations that had received donations from the PSF lacked some of the documents required for them to be entitled to the money.
The commission said the release of P100 million each to the Philippine Good Work Mission and Foundation and the ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services Inc.) Foundation despite the absence of vouchers and supporting documents defeated the purpose of a COA circular on the guidelines for year end financial statements.
The ICTSI is chaired by Enrique Razon, a close friend of the Arroyos.
The COA noted that the indicated purpose of the releases was for financial assistance in the implementation of projects for Pampanga and Bicol. But under the rules, the project name, the intended beneficiaries and project cost estimates, among others, should have been specified.
The COA recommended that the OP require the submission of the lacking documents required for the disbursement vouchers. The OP said it would submit the documentary requirements.