Pagcor put on hold anti-poverty funds, says ex-NAPC chief
MANILA, Philippines — Former National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Liza Maza said programs backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) were withheld amid accusations they were supporting communist rebels.
In a message to INQUIRER.net on Monday, Maza clarified that Pagcor stopped disbursing funds to their projects, and it’s not the NAPC which refrained from implementing it.
“Pagcor ordered the disbursement of funds for the various socio-economic projects on hold on the baseless allegation that the funds were being channeled to the NPA,” she said, referring to the New People’s Army.
She said she believes the military had a hand in the cancellation of the projects, given the history between left-leaning activists and the Armed Forces.
“I think this was the handiwork of the military and I conveyed to Pagcor and Malacañang then my displeasure and objection over the military’s meddling in the performance of legitimate functions of a civilian office,” Maza claimed.
She also slammed Pagcor for disallowing programs that were ‘transparent and legitimate.’
“Masyado silang influential para basta ipatigil ang lehitimo, bukas at masinop na implementasyon ng proyekto para sa mahihirap,” she added.
(They were so influential in stopping the legitimate and open implementation of the projects for the poor.)
Maza, a former Gabriela party-list representative, has been accused by the military of involvement with members of the past and present Makabayan bloc, which reportedly has ties to the communist movement.
She resigned from her post in August 2018. Malacañang confirmed the resignation in November of the same year.
READ: Liza Maza resigns from Duterte Cabinet
Earlier, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported that P49.03 million worth of financial assistance given by Pagcor to the NAPC in 2017 remained untouched.
COA said this deprived the program’s intended beneficiaries such as students in Mindanao and those relying on the coconut industry in the Visayas.
The audit reports also revealed that upon Pagcor’s instruction, NAPC directed its Administrative and Financial Management Service (AFMS) on January 28 to stop disbursing funds from Pagcor’s grant while an audit is pending.
Mazac confirmed this, but she claimed that Pagcor did not give them copies of the audit reports.
“We submitted all documents for the said audit, but until now we were not furnished a report in spite of follow-ups,” she said.
The memorandum of agreement (MOA) between NAPC and Pagco was signed on April 5, 2017 — the same day the P50 million assistance was given to the agency. Under the agreement, all unused funds or projects not completed by April 4, 2019 will be returned to Pagcor.
COA urged NAPC officials to discuss the possibility of a contract extension with Pagcor, or return the funds if Pagcor does not agree to such terms.
As of posting time, INQUIRER.net is still trying to get the side of Pagcor. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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