MANILA - The Office of the President (OP) has accumulated P447.7 million in unliquidated cash advances since the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, the Commission on Audit (COA) has discovered.
In its annual audit report for 2012, the COA said P37.1 million in advances had piled up under President Aquino, P290.1 million under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, P29.3 million under President Joseph Estrada, P45.7 million under President Fidel Ramos, P11.4 million under the late President Corazon Aquino, and P33 million during the Marcos regime.
A copy of the audit findings has been forwarded to the House of Representatives, as is the case with other COA reports.
The COA said the funds were advanced to OP and Presidential Security Group disbursement officers and were used mostly for the foreign trips of the sitting president and Palace personnel accompanying him or her.
It said the unsettled advances piled up because the OP continued to give funds to its disbursement officers even though previous advances had not been accounted for.
The practice was contrary to Section 89 of Presidential Decree 1445 and COA Circular 97-002 dated Feb. 10, 1997, the COA said.
It quoted Section 89: “A cash advance shall be reported on and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was given has been served. No additional cash advance shall be allowed to any official or employee unless previous cash advance given to him is first settled or a proper accounting thereof is made.”
The COA said its Circular 97-002 also provides that in case of foreign travels, cash advances should be accounted for within 60 days upon the return of the president and within 30 days upon return in case of local trips.
“All cash advances due for liquidation shall be fully liquidated at the end of each year,” it said.
The COA urged the OP to continue to require current and former disbursement officers to settle their cash advances, and to sanction those who fail to do so.
Meanwhile, the audit commission also questioned the failure of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the de facto Philippine diplomatic post in Taiwan, to submit quarterly reports on its income from passport fees and other collections.
It said MECO is required to share 20 percent of its income with the government through the OP.