PHISGOC tying COA’s hands

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2020 - 12:00am

The reluctance of officials of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) to submit their accounting of expenditures for the biennial event carries with it some dangerous consequences. First, how can the government ascertain corruption when the potentially corrupt withhold all the primary evidence? Secondly, this renders the Philippine Sports Commission – the lone government agency allowed to disburse sports funds – unable to comply with government requirements to liquidate its own expenses and get fresh funds for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and Vietnam SEA Games. All to prevent the incarceration of a greedy few.

In 2005, President Gloria Arroyo, through the Department of Budget and Management, gave the PSC – as custodian – P500 million for the hosting of the SEA Games. Then POC president Peping Cojuangco was the de facto SEA Games Federation president. PSC gave financial assistance to POC amounting to P300 million to complete transactions based on the requirements of the organizing committee at the time, PHILSOC. A few months after the Games, PHILSOC submitted their accounting for liquidation with the Commission on Audit. COA eventually disallowed P27 million of the total. To this day, that amount has not been returned. This set a dangerous precedent for succeeding hosting of the SEA Games.

For the 2019 SEA Games, the national government, once again through DBM, gave P6 billion to PSC as custodian. (Private entities such as PHISGOC are not allowed to handle public funds.) However, the PSC could not question the  budgets set by PHISGOC, either. The commission was simply a conduit.

Due to the delay of budget releases due to the strict procedures of Congress and other government agencies, PSC was forced to release funds to save the Games, but with the COA requirement to liquidate all expenditures immediately after the competition. Under the General Appropriations Act, P6 billion was allocated for the 2019 SEA Games budget. DBM assisted PHISGOC with distribution of the budget and procurement. Among the items were P3.9 billion coursed through DBM for transactions handled directly by PHISGOC (upon their request), which would have to be liquidated by DBM. POC handled another P450 million for the purchase of equipment, which was to be liquidated to PSC as per a memorandum of agreement between the two entities. PHISGOC received another P1.4 billion which it agreed to – and has not – liquidated to PSC.

The official deadline for submission of accounting was Jan. 10, or one month after the end of the Games. PSC paid out another P1 billion directly as payment  to hotels, car rental companies and other suppliers as required by PHISGOC. Upon submission of documents by the various organizations involved based on their respective MOAs (in the form of receipts, reports, contracts, and the like), only then can COA review and evaluate which expenses would be disallowed. It is only at that time that the parties concerned will explain and justify the expenses.

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