Batanes sitting on idle cash – COA
MANILA, Philippines – Batanes is sitting on idle funds that were supposed to be used for environmental and heritage projects, a 2013 Commission on Audit report found.
According to the report, only P3.3 million has been used out of a total of P25 million allocated by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) for the development of an Ecological Solid Waste Management System and Materials Recovery Facility for the island municipalities of Sabtang and Itbayat, delaying the full implementation of the project.
Auditors also found the province received P8.75 million in two tranches (P5.75 million on September 20, 2011 and P3 million on February 10, 2012) from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Batanes lone district Representative Henedina Abad but only P500,000 has been utilized and liquidated as of December 31, 2013.
Representative Abad is the wife of Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad.
Auditors said the P3.3 million fund from the EMB was used for the purchase of heavy equipment machineries, but the provincial government has yet to deliver them to the municipalities after it received the machines on May 28, 2013.
The rest of the amount has also remained unused, the report said.
The EMB was one of the agencies that received funds from the administration's controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a scheme meant to stimulate the economy by moving funds from slow-moving projects to fast-moving ones, based on the list of projects released by the Department of Budget and Management. (READ: Where did DAP funds go?)
The COA report, however, did not specify if the EMB fund allocated to Batanes was part of the now defunct DAP. The Supreme Court earlier declared 3 schemes, including the cross-border transfer of funds under the DAP, unconstitutional.
Unutilized, unliquidated PDAF
The report showed that the P8.75 million PDAF allocated to Batanes was transferred to the Batanes Heritage Foundation Inc, a non-government organization that signed a memorandum of agreement for heritage projects.
Part of the agreement was for yet-to-be-implemented projects that would help Batanes be included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The entire Batanes province is a protected area.
"Review of the PDAF utilization report revealed that only P500,000 was utilized and liquidated as of December 31, 2013 leaving an unliquidated balance of P8.25 million," auditors said.
Asked to explain, the provincial government told auditors "setbacks that warranted a temporary suspension" of the project prevented them from utilizing the PDAF allocation in full. The local government did not specify what those setbacks were. – Rappler.com