COA to run after offices with big unliquidated expenses

Posted at 01/30/2014 4:49 PM

One agency has P1-B worth of unliquidated cash advances, says Grace Tan

MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) is set to file charges against departments, agencies and government officials with unliquidated cash advances in the past ten years.

Speaking before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, COA Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido Tan said their office is now completing the list of all government agencies and officials who have unliquidated cash advances.

She said the filing of appropriate malversation charges will be done a few months after.

"It amounts to billions, meron isang agency lang P1 billion or so ang unliquidated," Tan said.

She, however, did not go all the way in identifying the agencies involved since they are still in the process of completing their auditing.

In the same hearing, lapses and inadequacies in government procedures were pinpointed to be a culprit on why alleged fake NGOs has been proliferating for years.

The hearing on Thursday was primarily on possible reforms that can guard against misuse of funds such as how the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) ended up in fake non-government organizations of Janet Lim Napoles.

Tan said that in the Napoles controversy, some officials of the implementing agencies themselves intentionally or unintentionally simply agreed with what the legislator wanted.

"When we asked agencies, why choose this particular NGO? [The answer is] ‘Eh yun ho ang sinasabi ni senator so and so,’” Tan said. “Wala namang nag-la-lakas loob na magsabi na, ‘Sir, hindi ho pwede, kailangan dumaan tayo sa proseso.’”

Officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were also questioned why they were unable to monitor the movements of the NGOs allegedly linked to Napoles.

SEC Chairperson Teresita Herbosa said it was a logistical challenge for them to effectively monitor some 20,000 foundations listed in the SEC.

"We don’t have resources. We can only do random examination, about 6-10% of the total, we cannot monitor all foundations, we only have 8 processors, evaluators," she said.

"Only 8 [for over] 20,000 NGOs?" Senator TG Guigona asked. "That’s really a challenge. Eight evaluators are in charge of 20,000 NGOs and growing as the years go by. I think that’s the meat of the problem."

It was also revealed that SEC does not regularly receive notices from government agencies on companies or foundations linked to controversies, a sign of poor monitoring.

"Kapag may red flag sa COA, does that information get to SEC? Lumalabas ba ito sa database nyo?" asked Sen. Bam Aquino.

"None yet your honor," answered Herbosa.

After the hearing, Guingona said: “Yung mga ahensya ng gobyerno may kakulangan sa pagmonitor ng mga NGO, pero di natin masisi dahil kulang ang resources nila.”

The Blue Ribbon Committee will also conduct another hearing, this time on the Malampaya fund that also allegedly involves fake NGOs with links to Napoles.