Following the funds noticed by the Commission on Audit (COA) in various government agencies in recent days, progressive lawmakers are also investigating some of the government’s “savings” that President Rodrigo Duterte is allegedly turning into discretionary funds.
This is the call of today’s Bayan Muna party-list after the COA flagged the Department of Health, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology regarding their use of funds.
“There is a National Budget Circular 586 trying to collect the expected savings from the FY 2020 GAA from agencies,” and Rep. Carlo Zarate (Bayan Muna) in a statement this Wednesday.
“This NBC 586 covers released allotments under the FY 2020 GAA, which remain unobligated until May 15, 2021, but not expressly earmarked for the implementation of programs / activities /projects addressing the COVID19 pandemic and can be realigned by the president as he sees fit.”
According to Zarate, NBC 586 is no different from Disbursement Acceleration Program savings or presidential pork, which was previously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court during the time of former President Noynoy Aquino.
Also, in 2013, the Supreme Court declared the Priority Development Assistance Funds or congressional pork barrel unconstitutional, following a scam filed against some senators and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
COA, Ombudsman urged to review ‘savings turned presidential pork’
On Monday, Duterte scolded the COA for criticizing the DOH’s P67.3 billion “deficiencies” in their COVID-19 response funds, even though the commission has been conducting its annual audit for several years.
“Without proper accounting, we cannot blame the people for thinking that this administration is trying to create an enormous war chest in the run up for the 2022 elections to ensure that the Duterte clique’s influence and control extend beyond June 30 next year,” he continued. Zarate.
According to Neri Colmenares, chairperson of the same party-list, it is surprising that there is still underspending among agencies during the pandemic when the government should spend.
Presidential pork is a lump sum amount where the president and executive will decide on the beneficiary, project, and money to be used.