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Funding source of Marcos trip ‘not irrelevant’

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Funding source of Marcos trip ânot irrelevantâ
The photo of the Commission on Audit's office in Quezon CIty.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang should not dismiss as irrelevant the funding source of President Marcos’ recent trip to Singapore, according to former Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza.

Speaking with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News on Wednesday, Mendoza said it is the right of every Filipino to inquire who funded Marcos’ trip, which was criticized due to the secrecy and timing.

“You cannot say that it is irrelevant. We have different classifications of expenditure. There are illegal, regular, irrelevant or unnecessary and unconscionable,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“How can we distinguish that? First, we need to know the nature of the expenditure. How can we know the nature of expenditure? We will return to the source of funding,” she added.

Earlier, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said the funding source of Marcos’ trip was irrelevant, adding that the President was entitled to private time.

Marcos went to Singapore for the Formula 1 Grand Prix last weekend upon the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. It was unclear if government funds were used, but reports said Marcos used the government’s Gulfstream G280 jet for the trip.

Among those who accompanied the President, who described his trip as productive, were his cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez and his son Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos.

Marcos drew criticisms after hotel costs for the international racing event circulated online.

If public funds were used, Mendoza said it is important to determine where it was sourced to identify the nature of the spending.

“For example, if the source is a trust fund, of course it has to be covered by the trust agreement and the guidelines that will define how it will be used… So you cannot just say that the source was irrelevant,” she added.

During the interview, Mendoza also stressed that intelligence and confidential funds may still be subjected to audit by COA.

“The difference of confidential funds, it cannot be audited by resident auditors… who are in the agencies. The confidential funds, that is directly under what we call the intelligence and confidential funds audit office under the office of the chair,” she said.

“So the chairman of the Commission on Audit may delegate such kind of audit,” she said, citing previous administrations where the COA conducted audit of the utilization of intelligence and confidential funds.

Various groups and legislators have raised concerns over the huge proposal for confidential funds in several offices, including the Office of the President, Office of the Vice President and Department of Education.

COA

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