COA to ask erring NGOs, lawmakers to refund gov’t P6B
Commission on Audit (COA) chair Grace Pulido-Tan said Tuesday that her agency would issue notices of disallowance (NDs) involving P6 billion worth of pork barrel funds that a special audit conducted from 2007 to 2009 found was illegally funneled to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
“Given the scope of the audit, we expect to issue thousands and thousands of notices of disallowance. We estimate about P6 billion worth of disallowances will be made within the year,” Tan said under questioning by Justice Luis P. Bersamin during the opening of oral arguments on the abolition of the pork barrel.
This means that the implementing agencies or the NGOs or even the endorsing lawmaker would be asked to refund the disallowed amount to the COA.
“If they are not happy, they have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court just like the case of Congressman Cuenco,” Tan said.
Tan said the COA had issued several NDs related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the most recent of which was the P3.39 million appropriated by Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in 2004.
“The Supreme Court recently affirmed our decision,” Tan said.
She pointed out that while the settlement of the NDs would extinguish the administrative aspect of the transactions, it was still up to the Ombudsman if the criminal liability of the proponents would be erased or pursued in court.
Tan said that the government procurement law should be observed at every point in the flow of pork barrel funds from the legislator to the implementing agency to the handpicked NGO.
“Based on COA Circular No. 2007-001, it is provided that funds granted or transferred to NGOs retain the character of public funds. They must submit disbursement (papers) in compliance with procurement act,” she said.
Tan said the COA had also reviewed PDAF releases from 2010 to 2012 and that results of its audit during these period were on its website.
Justice Antonio Carpio suggested that the NGOs that received subsidies should be compelled to place these state funds in an account separate from their privately sourced money.
“I think if they were only required to comply with the rules, this would have not happened,” Carpio said.
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