COA to Opapp: Where did P1.14B go?
MANILA, Philippines–The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) and its partner agencies have failed to account for more than P1.14 billion in public funds they spent for the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program, a major component of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.
In its review of the agency’s financial records in 2013, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) failed to implement on time two Pamana infrastructure projects in Mindanao worth P250 million.
State auditors also discovered a delay in a similar project awarded to the provincial government of Northern Samar amounting to P156 million.
Opapp media officer Zen Formoso told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Monday the agency had already responded to the issues raised in the COA’s 2013 report.
She said the Opapp will have to check its files regarding the issues before it would release a full statement on the matter.
The COA said the failure of the Opapp and other government agencies to liquidate the funds they received “(casts) doubt on whether the Pamana projects were fully implemented or the funds were utilized for the purpose.”
Designed to promote economic development in war-torn communities in the country, Pamana was chiefly funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the savings-impounding mechanism of the Aquino administration which the Supreme Court has struck down for being unconstitutional.
In its audit report, the COA said Opapp signed various agreements with different national government agencies (NGAs) to carry out Pamana-funded projects in provinces affected by insurgency.
From 2011 to 2012, it said the agency distributed P300.4 million to the AFP, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform and National Commission on Indigenous People.
However, a total of P283.6 million—or 94 percent of the funds—remained unliquidated as of Dec. 31, 2013.
Contrary to circular
“The nonsubmission of the required liquidation reports by the NGAs is contrary to the provisions of COA Circular No. 94-013… thus, casting doubt on whether the projects were fully implemented or the funds were fully utilized for the purpose for which the same were transferred,” the COA said.
In its reply, the Opapp told the COA it was coordinating with its partner agencies regarding the submission of liquidation reports.
On the other hand, the COA said 10 local government units (LGUs) had yet to explain how they spent the more than P816 million in Pamana funds they received from Opapp.
From 2011 to 2012, it said the LGUs received a total of P1.67 billion from Opapp, but they were only able to account for about half of the funds.
Among those that had yet to liquidate funds were the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Davao City, and the provinces of Ifugao, Camarines Norte, Surigao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Sur, Cotabato and South Cotabato.
The COA said Northern Samar officials failed to complete the construction of a 50-meter bridge despite receiving P156 million for the project, which was 80 percent of the approved budget of P195.5 million.
Under the original agreement, it said the infrastructure project should have been finished in December 2012.
The military, meanwhile, did not deliver on its promise to complete two road projects worth P250 million in Maguindanao due to a delay in the submission of the final program of work and the detailed engineering design.
“The delayed submission of the (documents) also caused the delayed implementation of the two projects, thereby depriving the intended beneficiaries of the immediate and beneficial use of the projects,” the COA said.
In addition, it said the OPAPP had also failed to account for P38.9 million it distributed to several nongovernment organizations from 2009 to 2013 for its “Projects for Peace” program.
State auditors said OPAPP officials and personnel had likewise failed to liquidate P19.3 million in advances “although the purposes for which the cash advances were given had already been served.”–With a report from Jovic Yee
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