P50 Billion lost to graft and corruption

P50-billion government funds missing – Recto
(The Philippine Star) Updated February 15, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Almost P50 billion of government funds released to national agencies, local government units (LGUs), private foundations, and people’s organizations (POs) are missing, former senator Ralph Recto said yesterday.

Recto, a senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party, cited the Commission on Audit (COA) report on taxpayers’ money disbursed to state agencies, LGUs, foundations, and POs in 2008.

The COA report showed that P24.81 billion of the unaccounted funds was disbursed to state agencies. The Department of Agriculture received P17.45 billion, the biggest allocation.

Recto said local governments received P16.58 billion, while foundations and POs received P7.61 billion.

“The COA report is appalling and seems to show that the agencies which transferred the funds and those who received the money are doing little to account for every single centavo, and check if, indeed, the funds went to the intended projects,” he said.

“It also speaks loudly of how scarce resources are being wasted through loose accountability systems, if not downright inefficiency,” he added.

He said agencies that disburse funds to private organizations should require the recipients to liquidate the funds, and file charges against those that do not comply.

“They should publish the list of recipient organizations so the public will know if these groups are real or fictitious, if they were created simply to receive funds meant for somewhere or someone else,” he said.

In 2004, a huge part of the controversial P728-million fertilizer fund was disbursed to foundations and POs that auditors failed to trace. Part of the funds also went to non-farming Metro Manila congressional districts, including the Malabon-Navotas district.

The Senate investigated the fertilizer scam and recommended criminal charges against several agriculture officials, many of whom are still in their posts.

The alleged mastermind, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante, is running for governor in Capiz.

In 2007, state auditors were again unable to trace the foundations and POs that received millions in disbursements from agriculture officials.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, who is running unopposed for a congressional seat in Bohol, is facing plunder charges in connection with these irregularities. – Jess Diaz

The ProPinoy Project

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