COA unearths P2.6-B ‘ghost’ deals in ARMM
By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) Updated August 30, 2011 12:00 AM
COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan reported to the House appropriations committee that the irregularities took place last year.
She said the office of the regional governor (ORG) entered into transactions amounting to P1.003 billion which cannot be considered legitimate because these were supported by “spurious” documents.
“Funds received by the ORG for its operations were not properly utilized and managed, taking into consideration applicable laws, rules and regulations,” she said.
In Maguindanao, the COA discovered the occurrence of transactions amounting to P856.887 million which may be considered “fictitious” because these were either denied by suppliers or supported with spurious documents.
“Likewise, 99 projects costing P873.448 million were found deficient by P841.925 million as these were either not implemented or implemented but validated accomplishments were way below the reported accomplishments,” Tan said.
She did not indicate in her report under whose leadership in ARMM and Maguindanao in 2010 the spurious transactions were made.
Since the Maguindanao massacre in November 2009, Ansaruddin Adiong has taken over as acting ARMM governor.
In Maguindanao, two officers-in-charge were appointed before Esmael Mangudadatu was elected governor in May 2010.
Tan reported that aside from spurious deals entered into by the regional governor’s office and Maguindanao officials, the ARMM public works office had more than P1 billion in questionable payments.
“The validity and legitimacy of payments amounting to P1.123 billion to 112 suppliers and contractors may be considered questionable,” she said.
She promised to provide details on the questionable transactions in a subsequent report to the appropriations committee.
President Aquino has vowed to curb corruption in the ARMM, for which he is seeking fresh funding of more than P12 billion for 2012.
This is one of the reasons why he pushed for the postponement of the election of new regional officials, scheduled early this month, to May 2013.
The window of more than two years would give the officers-in-charge he will soon appoint time to straighten things out. The President wants the OICs to be “clean,” as far as financial dealings are concerned. Mangudadatu is one of the aspiring OICs.
Aquino also wants to introduce political reforms in the autonomous region.