COA eyes audit of OWWA fund diversion

Posted at 04/27/11 3:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-installed Commission on Audit Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan is looking at the possibility of conducting a new audit on the P530 million Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds allegedly diverted for the funding of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s 2004 campaign.

In a press conference, Tan said she has yet to determine if the said fund was already covered by the audit previously done in 2006.

She admitted that the audit then did not indicate that the transfers were anomalous.

Former Solicitor General Francisco “Frank” Chavez on Tuesday filed plunder charges against the former President, former executive secretary Alberto Romulo, Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco Duque III and former administrator Virgilio Angelo of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of qualified theft, graft and corruption, and violations of the Constitution, Revised Penal Code and the Omnibus Election Code.

Arroyo was accused of diverting about P530 million in OWWA funds to her 2004 presidential campaign.

Chavez said Executive Order 182, issued in 2003, allowed for the transfer of more than P530 million in OWWA funds to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). He claimed Arroyo was then able to distribute PhilHealth cards before the presidential elections.

"Kung yung paglipat ng funds from one agency to another, hindi naman yun kasalanan kasi it was covered by an EO coming from former President Arroyo. The President has broad plenary powers,” Tan admitted.

“Ngayon, kung ang question ay kung labag ba yun sa mandate ng OWWA, that is beyond our mandate. Yun circumstances is now a part of a court case. Hindi ko na masasagot iyon,” she added.