DBM Secretary Abad: Rabusa revelations present opportunity to accelerate reforms

Aquino government to intensify reform in defense disbursements, procurement

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad today said the Aquino administration will take advantage of the opportunity to escalate reforms in the utilization of national defense funds; in light of anomalies revealed recently before a Senate probe.

“The revelations of former Lt. Col. George Rabusa on the supposed diversion and misuse of national defense funds compels us to go deeper into the disbursement and procurement practices of the defense establishment,” he said.

“Even as we have already established reforms and safeguards, we cannot afford to be complacent. We will shine daylight into how the defense establishment spends the people’s money and eliminate all possible openings for these rackets,” he said.

He reported that these particular areas are being addressed:

  • In the past, “savings” from unfilled or vacated uniformed and non-uniformed positions have been diverted to other uses because the full personnel services (PS) allotments had been released in full.

Now, the national government will release PS allotments only for filled positions, or an estimated 80% of all positions. For 2011, some P8.602 billion has been withheld “and shielded from possible diversion,” Abad said.

An updated report of the roster of uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the AFP should now be submitted by the Department of National Defense (DND) to the DBM for a precise picture of real funding requirements. The 2011 Staffing Summary indicates that there are 135,699 uniformed and non-uniformed positions of the AFP, and the total PS allotment amounts to 68.850 billion.

  • In the past, the “conversion” of maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO) allotments of the AFP and the “certification” of expenditures without supporting documents were made possible with poor internal control.

Steps are being considered, in consultation with DND Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, to counter these opaque practices of the past. One of which is to standardize MOOE and CO requirements of military camps and make this information available to them.

He said this is similar to what has been done in the case of the Philippine National Police, where the MOOE has been allocated on a police-per-capita basis of P1,000 per month. Already, the MOOE of agencies attached to the AFP General Headquarters—such as the Philippine Military Academy, Presidential Security Group and AFP Medical Center—are being released directly to them.

  • “Conversion” and “certification” practices had also thrived because, in the past, DND enjoyed the release of allotments even without submitting accountability reports. One example of which is the recently-terminated Kalayaan Barangay Program, where only the names and amounts of projects—without supporting documents—are submitted.

To address this, technical visits have been made by DBM to verify budgetary accounts, validate the status of programs, projects and activities and instruct the agency’s finance group on how to comply with DBM reportorial requirements.

“This has already been emphasized to them: no report, no release,” Abad said, stressing that the DND and the Armed Forces will undergo agency performance review.

Furthermore, he said additional notice of cash allocation (NCA) releases will only be made based on the DND’s cash program and bank report of NCA balances. In the past, additional NCAs had been released even without reports on the utilization and disbursement of funds. He added that accountability reports of all agencies, including the DND and AFP, will be published on the DBM website.

  • To further ensure that procurement will not be disadvantageous to the public coffers, DND and AFP—like all other agencies—are being encouraged to procure all their common supplies and equipment from the Procurement Service. “In fact, we are considering the issuance of a directive requiring the purchase of these common supplies and equipment from the Procurement Service,” he said.

Purchasing these common supplies and equipment from the Procurement Service, he said, will be advantageous because 1) the agencies will not need to go through bidding and 2) the supplies and equipment can be purchased at much lower cost, given the Procurement Service’s market power.

Abad emphasized that “national security” could not be used as a generalized reason to sidestep the Aquino government’s transparency and accountability thrust.

“Even the military has to follow standards of daylight. Unless there are valid national security concerns, there will be no special treatment when it comes to the prudent and judicious management of the people’s funds,” he stressed.

Source: Official Gazette

BSAIII action plan on the judiciary

Reforms in the Judiciary

Action Plan on the Judiciary

The Aquino-Roxas campaign stands on a firm justice agenda, which is not limited to reforms in the Judiciary but includes the other pillars of the Criminal Justice System.

In the short term, the objectives of an Aquino-Roxas administration are the following:

  • If the post remains vacant, the appointment of a credible, efficient and fair Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
  • Convene the Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JELACC) as the springboard for the review of the state of the justice system and the possible areas for budgetary as well as administrative support within the first 100 days of the Aquino presidency, and utilize this council for the submission of a justice modernization budget to be included in the first State of the Nation address (SONA) agenda.
  • Expedite the appointment of judges and prosecutors based on a system of meritocracy and fitness for the job, and work on all pending appointments to these important posts.
  • Signal the importance of jail decongestion by releasing detention prisoners who have served their maximum terms in jail and also deserving elderly inmates who are eligible for unconditional release due to old age.

In the medium to long term:

  • Strengthen the barangay justice system through increased training, the setting up of a system of accredited mediators and the inclusion of time served in the barangay justice system as part of mandated legal aid for practicing lawyers.
  • Reduce the vacancy of the courts and the prosecution service to single digit figures.
  • Prioritize the cases of detention prisoners, through a multi stakeholder approach (national government, LGU, civil society and business) in order to decongest our facilities and provide speedy justice.
  • The consistent use of merit and fitness in the appointment and promotion of officials within the justice system.
  • The modernization of the Philippine National Police through increased funding and training, and the appointment of qualified and meritorious persons in the service.
  • The follow through of the Salary Standardization Law that would increase the salaries of prosecutors, public defenders and other professionals in the public service.
  • Double the budget of the Judiciary to enable it to pursue its reform program and deliver justice for all.
  • Increase the conviction rate of the prosecutors from 20% to 40% by the end of the presidential term, through the support and professionalization of the national prosecution service, improvement of the evidence gathering techniques in collaboration with the PNP, and the extensive use of mediation during the preliminary investigation stage, to ferret out cases which may just settle in court during trial.
  • Decrease the time when a detainee is staying at the detention facilities through increased vigilance of public defenders, a case information system for detention facilities, and increased participation of civil society prison support groups.
  • Decrease the average length of a case in court through improvements in the prosecution service and the public defenders, and the rolling out of various forms of alternative dispute resolution in the courts.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]