Dec 222014

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday sought a Senate inquiry on the reported misuse of some P2.7 billion in pork barrel funds by some governors and mayors in 2013.

In Senate Resolution 1066, Santiago cited the Commission on Audit report that at least P1.035 billion of the allocations given by representatives and senators were used “inappropriately” through projects that were not specified in the special allotment release orders (SARO) of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

COA stated that some of the local government units it audited in 2013 abused their pork barrel funds, while others exceeded the cash limits in paying cash advances for the projects and did not follow strict guidelines on the use of pork barrel funds.

It also said that when the PDAF was declared unconstitutional in 2013, some P1.106 billion in idle PDAF allocations were still under the control of governors and mayors who did not return the money to the National Treasury when they were audited this year.

The resolution stated that the misused funds were reportedly traced to LGUs in Metro Manila with P594.319 million; Western Visayas (Region 6) with P126.161 million; Bicol (Region 5) with P100.766 million; Calabarzon (Region 4-A) with P58.148 million; Cagayan Valley (Region 2) with P53.378 million; Central Visayas (Region 7) with P34.933 million; Ilocos (Region 1) with P33.328 million.

It added that fund misuse was also reportedly noted among local governments in Mimaropa (Region 4-B) with P30.915 million; Davao (Region 11) with P26.087 million; Soccksargen (Region 12) with P26.087 million; Central Luzon (Region 3) with P22.885 million; Northern Mindanao (Region 10) with P9.590 million; Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 11) with P7.415 million; Eastern Visayas (Region 8) with P5 million; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with P2.456 million; and Caraga (Region 13) with P870,000.

The COA also found out that the PDAF disbursements to LGUs worth P547.082 million were red-flagged with at least 91 governors and mayors providing zero or incomplete supporting documents for pork projects, and 11 local governments failing to indicate amounts of their disbursements.

Some local officials also did not conduct public bidding while others did not report their receipt and use of PDAF on their websites as mandated.

Santiago said it is imperative that the public funds be strictly monitored against ghost projects, and that transparency in all stages of the implementation of projects is practiced. —NB, GMA News

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