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COA returns P65-M DAP

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit (COA) has returned to the national treasury P65.1 million in unused allocation from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan told the House of Representatives appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab on Monday night that her agency received P136.5 million in additional funds from Malacañang in 2011.

She said the funds were intended mostly for information technology (IT) equipment, including closed-circuit television cameras.

She said they were able to use only half of the money.

Responding to questions raised by Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz of party-list group Abakada, Tan revealed that they did not know that the funds came from DAP.

She said they learned that the allocation was sourced from the controversial program only when the Palace disclosed funding details following the Supreme Court decision declaring certain DAP practices as unconstitutional.

Dela Cruz asked the COA to check why P2.9 billion released through DAP was paid to Swiss customs inspection firm Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) through the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. and who was behind the payment.

SGS used to inspect goods coming into the country at their ports of origin. The government had already ended its engagement with the Swiss firm.

Dela Cruz also asked the audit commission to investigate why P1.2 billion from DAP was infused into the Home Guarantee Corp. (HGC) despite the fact that the state firm is a losing entity.

He has initiated an inquiry by the committee on good government and public accountability into billions in HGC losses and into what he called the state corporation’s “anomalous” lease of the huge Commonwealth public market on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to a private company.

He said the market was leased for P2 million a month for 25 years, when it was already earning P12 million a month from more than 2,000 stall renters.

The government thus stands to lose at least P2.5 billion from the deal over the length of the lease, he said.

Dela Cruz also asked the COA to submit a detailed report on its own finding that there were gaps in the numbering of 3,200 SAROs (special allotment release orders) the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had issued during the Arroyo administration until 2011.

“These gaps put into question all the 42,000 SAROs issued covering a total of P2 trillion of public funds,” he said.

COA officials said the DBM has informed them that the gaps were just “systems errors.”

During the hearing, Tan asked the Ungab committee for P838 million for IT projects for next year, including the establishment of a computerized central data center.

CHAIRMAN GRACE PULIDO-TAN

COMMONWEALTH AVENUE

DAVAO CITY REP

DELA CRUZ

DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT

DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM

HOME GUARANTEE CORP

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ISIDRO UNGAB

PHILIPPINE DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORP

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