Independent bloc wants audit of Malampaya funds
MANILA - The independent bloc in the House of Representatives is seeking an audit of the Malampaya funds amid reports that it has been used up.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said a proper audit is in order since there is "commingling and charges made against account."
"It's quite bewildering that the funds are depleted. Malampaya royalties are accruing. Other than that, it's a bit surprising. A proper audit is in order," he said.
National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon earlier told the Development Budget Coordinating Committee that the Aquino administration has used up the entire multibillion-peso Malampaya fund, contrary to previous reports that P130 billion of the fund was still intact.
“There is no more cash,” de Leon said.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Congress’ oversight powers should cover the so-called "off-budget" funds, including the Malampaya fund and other presidential pork barrel allocations, which she described as “unconstitutional and evil.”
She said these off-budget funds were created during martial law and excluded from the national treasury.
“At present, these off-budget funds are under the complete control of the President, without an appropriation made by Congress,” she said.
Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said the depletion of the Malampaya fund could be a big problem for the administration.
"If the National Treasurer was correctly quoted, big problem. We have been asking for the executive department to account for it. How was the beginning balance (of the Aquino administration) and how much left now, then where did it go. If she's saying commingled, why did they commingle? Under the law, they are not supposed to do that. They should be sued," he said.
He said he believes the commingling of funds was done at least with the authorization of the Budget Secretary.
Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said he is shocked to hear that the Malampaya fund has been depleted.
Romualdez said he will not be surprised if the previous administration is blamed again for the depletion of the fund. He said the possible charge may be technical malversation.
"We don't wanna jump the gun. We believe a COA audit would be in order," he said.
He also backed a proposal that all off-budget lump sums like the Malampaya funds, social funds from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and the motor vehicle user's charge revenues be opened to scrutiny. With a report by The Philippine Star