COA orders Junjun Binay to return P45M intel funds
The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered former Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. to return to the government P45 million from the intelligence and confidential fund (ICF) that exceeded the allowable amount or lacked the President’s approval.
COA Intelligence/Confidential Fund Audit Office Director Mario Lipana was authorized by Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo to issue two notices of disallowance both dated Sept. 5.
No presidential approval
ND No. 2018-003 stated that P25 million was released in two tranches in August and October 2013 without the approval of then-President Benigno S. Aquino III.
It also stated that the President only approved the funding for the first half of 2013 but not for the second half of the year.
Makati City’s failure to submit proof of presidential approval for the second semester violated Section 2(V) of COA Circulars Nos. 85-245 and 2003-003.
Intel fund limits
Even if there was Presidential approval for the second semester, still the city would have exceeded the allowable ICF cap of P25.41 million for 2013, the COA said. This was because P25 million was already disbursed for the first semester.
The city’s allowable ICF is computed as 30 percent of its peace and order program expenses.
The COA found that the city included the personnel services expenses of its public safety department in its computation, which resulted in a higher cap on intelligence fund spending to justify the disbursements for the second semester of 2013.
But the COA said this was not allowed under Item II.4 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular 99-65.
A similar discrepancy in computing the ICF limit was also cited in ND No. 2018-001 as the ground for the disallowance of the P20-million ICF released in December 2010.
Just like in 2013, the Makati City government requested P50 million in 2010. The difference was that the President actually approved the request in full.
Yet, even with President’s approval, the COA found it excessive because the ICF cap for 2010 was only P26.16 million. Hence, it had to order the return of the excess amount.
Aside from Binay, former city budget officer Lorenza Amores was also held liable in both NDs. Amores was faulted for certifying the basis of the ICF computations, which the COA deemed erroneous.
Former city administrators Marjorie de Veyra and Eleno Mendoza Jr. were held liable for the disallowed amounts of P20 million for 2010 and P25 million for 2013.
The city officials were directed to “settle immediately the said disallowance.” The notices may be appealed within a period of six months from receipt.
This was not the first time Binay was ordered by the COA to return public funds to the government.
Binay and his father, Mayor-turned-Vice-President Jejomar Binay, were previously held liable under two notices of disallowance dated March 15 for the controversial P2.292-billion Makati City Hall Parking Building II.
COA notices, however, only covers individuals’ civil liabilities in connection with irregular expenditures and could not pursue prosecutions on its own.
But the Binays already face trial for multiple graft and falsification charges in the Sandiganbayan over the alleged rigging of the procurement process for the City Hall building, as well as the P1.35-billion Makati Science High School project. /ee
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