Recto to DBM: Where’s P130-B Malampaya fund?
MANILA, Philippines – Amid the hullabaloo about the Malampaya fund being misused like the lawmakers’ pork barrel, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto is asking what he had asked before: Where and how has this huge discretionary fund been spent by the executive?
In an interview with reporters on Monday, October 7, Recto said he would ask the budget department to account for the P130 billion cash it claimed does not exist but which, to the senator’s reckoning, is what remains of royalties from the natural gas operations off Palawan.
Proceeds from the Malampaya operations – currently allocated according to the sole discretion of the President – had amounted to P170 billion over the years, Recto said.
Of that amount, less than P25 billion was spent during the Arroyo administration, and P15 billion under Aquino. The last time the senator asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), however, he was told “there is no P130 billion in cash.”
"Dapat, una, ipaliwanag, palagay ko, ng DBM – at hindi ko sinasabing kasalanan nila ito – nasaan ‘yung natitirang P130 billion na cash ng Malampaya noong mga nakaraan?” he said.
(First, I think, the DBM should explain – and I’m not saying this is their fault – where is the remaining P130 billion cash from past Malampaya proceeds.)
“Even 'pag hindi mo ginastos ‘yan...posibleng nagagastos sa iba, hindi man lang sinasabi na galing sa Malampaya," he said.
(Even if you’re not utilizing it, it’s possible that others are using it without disclosing that it’s from the Malampaya fund.)
Special account should be set up
The national government collects P30 billion a year in royalties from the Malampaya operations, he said.
While the fund is intended for energy development projects, the Office of the President has tapped into it to fund non-related projects under various agencies by mere executive orders.
The President’s discretion over the fund has expanded due to the Supreme Court’s delayed resolution of a case over how to split the proceeds between the national and host local governments.
Recto said what to do with the Malampaya fund – along with the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and other and programmed and unprogrammed funds – should be discussed during deliberations on the proposed P2.26-trillion national budget for 2014.
Since the start of the Aquino administration, Recto had consistently called for the transparent and prudent utilization of the multi-billion-peso proceeds that’s expected to come in over a 20-year period.
In 2010, he called for a special account to be created for the Malampaya fund to easily track its disbursement. He questioned why it was co-mingled with other unaccounted funds spread across some 400 government accounts.
“This explains why after repeated assurances that the Malampaya money was intact, the funds have actually dissipated like a gas bubble,” he said then.
In 2011, Recto suggested that the Malampaya funds be taken out of the discretion of the executive and be formally listed as a source of financing for the General Appropriations Act.
Doing so would "guarantee transparency in its disbursement and democratize the allocation or utilization of said funds for priority programs and projects.”
At the time, he cited findings by the Commission on Audit showing that P19.4 billion had gone mostly to projects not related to energy development.
P20B for non-energy projects
In 2012, he made public the list of non-energy-related programs funded out of the Malampaya proceeds, as provided by the Department of Energy during budget deliberations.
They amounted to almost P20 billion of the P90 billion proceeds at the time:
- P1 billion – Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernizations Funds
- P2.14 billion – Department of the Interior and Local Government - Philippine National Police
- P5.82 billion – Department of Agriculture
- P3.55 billion – Department of Public Works and Highways
- P1.39 billion – Department of Finance
- P198 million – Department of National Defense
- P50 million – Philippine Coast Guard
- P745 million – Department of Health
- P900 million – Department of Agrarian Reform
- P400,000 – PAG-ASA
- P3.9 billion – local government of Palawan