Ermita: Why drag past admin into Malampaya fund mess?
MANILA - Former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita blasted allegations of his and the former administration’s roles in the alleged plunder of the Malampaya funds.
In a statement, Ermita said he wants to clarify his name “over this latest attempt to malign my person and the previous administration that I worked for. But I also do so with a clear conscience and high hopes that, once again, unproven innuendoes shall be dispelled by the bright light of actual facts and rational discourse.”
Reports alleged that it was during the previous administration that the plunder of the funds began.
Ermita said his office asked then Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya in 2009 to use the funds “in such amounts as may be necessary for the relief operations, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and other works and services to areas affected by the calamities.”
At that time, the Philippines had been battered by Ondoy and Pepeng and provinces badly hit needed immediate assistance.
“Reacting in her usual speedy fashion to emergencies and calamities, then-President Arroyo issued Proclamation 1898 on 2 October 2009, declaring a state of national calamity over the entire country,” Ermita recalled, adding that it was then that the Department of Agrarian Reform submitted a P900-million fund requirement.
He said the release of the funds was anchored on a presidential fiat requiring that these should be “used to finance energy resource development and exploitation program and projects of the government and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President.”
Ermita said the funds were released to the government agencies via the necessary legal processes and protocols, noting that the notice of cash allocation (NCA) specifically ordered that the use of the funds should be “subject to the existing budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations.”
“All of the above are fully documented matters of public record. It is unfortunate that they have either been ignored in the sensationalist reporting of some newspapers, or else taken out of context in order to distort and misrepresent what was simply the prompt and comprehensive response of the Arroyo administration to the emergency needs of hundreds of thousands of our people brought about by the twin calamities, Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng,” he said.
Since the funds were meant for rehabilitation purposes, Ermita said: “I would be among the first to condemn any irregularities that may be proven to have taken place in the disbursement of those funds.”