MANILA – The Commission on Audit has uncovered red flags for government agencies other than the executive department.
According to COA Chair Grace Pulido-Tan, irregularity indications are found on several departments that received a total of more than P15 billion from the Malampaya Fund.
Tan said, during the opening of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the alleged embezzlement of P900 million from the Malampaya fund, that the irregularities were noted during both the Arroyo and the Aquino administrations.
Red flags are usually seen before the COA audit begins and are indications that the said funds have to be monitored closely.
The COA chair, however, refused to give details on the initial findings of the commission stressing the rule prohibiting them to release any information about an audit that is ongoing.
She also acknowledged the questions triggered by the fund released to several government agencies and explained that not all of them were dubious.
Tan revealed the agencies with red flags which are the Department of Agriculture (DA), which received P5.8 billion; the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P7.6 billion; and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), P2.3 billion.
COA is also studying Malampaya fund releases to other agencies from 2002 to 2013.
The commission was able to finish the audit report in the P900-million releases to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) where a questionable transactions were unearthed.
The other agencies that received allotments from the Malampaya Fund were the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (P400 million); National Housing Authority (P1.398 billion); Department of Health (P745.926 million); Department of Transportation and Communications (P296.331 million); Philippine Coast Guard (P50 million); Department of National Defense (P7.456 billion); National Electrification Administration (P1.922 billion); National Power Corp. (P6.624 billion); Department of Energy (P550 million); provincial government of Albay (P47 million); city government of Tabaco (P15 million); the provincial government of Palawan (P1.782 billion); and the city government of Puerto Princesa (P270 million).
During the Aquino administration, the DND (2011 and 2012), NEA (2011 and 2012), Napocor (2011) and DOE (2011) also received releases.
In addition to this, several allotments were released to the DA in 2008 and 2009, the DPWH in 2009 and those to the DILG in 2009 and 2011—all of which came from the Malampaya fund.
“The Department of Agriculture received P5.8 billion. Were there no red flags there?” Sen. Sergio Osmeña III asked.
“Sir, there were a lot,” Tan said.
Meanwhile, the DILG releases indicating maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) were meant to “augment operational and logistical requirements in search, retrieval, rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts,”
“We all know that when we say MOOE, that’s where all kinds of expenditures fall under. Of course, from the statement of the purpose alone, we saw things that had to be looked into,” Tan said.