Thursday, October 01, 2009

Audit calamity and intelligence funds, solons ask COA

MANILA, Philippines - A member of the House Committee of Appropriations has asked the Commission on Audit to monitor all the calamity and intelligence funds used by local government units all over the country.

Representative Teodolo Coquilla (Lone District, Eastern Samar) made the call during the hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations on COA's proposed P4.066-billion 2010 budget.

Coquilla said some local government units are declaring state of calamities in their own localities even if the typhoon that passed their province was not that strong or destructive.

Coquilla cited the provincial government of Eastern Samar as one of the provinces that declared a state of calamity, thus was able to spend the province's P100 million-calamity fund.

Appearing before the house body, COA Chairman Reynaldo Villar said the agency would create a team that would look into the issue.

Villar said the commission would base the investigation or auditing on the request that Coquilla would file at the COA office.

"Upon receipt of a complaint or request of an auditing for a calamity fund, the commission may create an investigating team that would look into the matter," Villar said.

Coquilla said several sectors including the church people in the province have been asking how the P100 million-calamity fund, which was still available in February this year, was used by the local government.

Meanwhile, Representatives Darlene Custodio (1st District, South Cotabato) and George Arnaiz (2nd District, Negros Oriental) also asked COA to audit the intelligence funds allegedly released to cities and municipalities all over the country.

Arnaiz said there is a law that governs the limits in releasing or issuing intelligence funds but some cities go beyond the limit because they are being given an exemption by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

"Does the COA have any authority to somehow limit the amount of the intelligence funds being released to LGUs so that it will not be subject to abuse by abusive local executives?" Arnaiz asked.

Arnaiz also cited one small city in Negros Oriental that allegedly received a P700-million intelligence fund as against the release of a P200-million intelligence fund to a bigger city, which is also in his province.

According to Arnaiz, the COA should come up with a report or at least an advice to the different LGUs and the DILG to limit giving exemptions to different LGUs that are asking for intelligence funds way beyond what is advised by law.

The COA assured the committee that it would look into the issue, especially if it is already excessive. (Salvacion Beleo)

No comments: