State auditors have told the Philippine Forest Corporation (PFC) to “take appropriate action” against those liable for the award of projects allegedly without legal basis and release of P15 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to three non-government organizations (NGOs).
In a 2013 audit report on the PFC, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the NGOs were given a total of P15.085 million from PDAF in 2013.
“Contracting the projects to the NGOs was without any legal basis as there was no provision in the 2011 GAA earmarking the said projects to be specifically contracted out to NGOs. Besides, the selection of these NGOs was not also in accordance with the guidelines on NGO participation set forth under Annex A of GPPB Resolution No. 12-2007,” COA added.
The PFC, which received PDAF from 2008 to 2012, was designated in 2011 as the implementing agency for the “Upland Agro-Forestry Development Program specifically for the Planting of Jatropha Curcas L.”
The P15.085-million PDAF released in 2013 to the three NGOs was part of unspent PDAF allocations in 2011 and 2012 of nine legislators, drawn from the 2011 GAA.
The nine lawmakers were identified as former Representatives Ma. Evita Arago (Laguna), Ponciano Payuyo (Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives or APEC), Jose Benjamin Benaldo (Cagayan de Oro), Salvador Cabaluna (1-CARE), Ramon Durano (Cebu), Antonio Kho (Masbate) and Representatives Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman (Basilan), Michael Angelo Rivera (1-CARE) and Nicanor Briones (AGAP).
The NGOs were Kalipunan ng mga Samahan ng Mamamayan Inc. (Kasama Inc.), Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. (MLFI) and Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation Inc. (KKFI).
KKFI got the largest chunk (75.9 percent) or P11.445 million, while Kasama Inc. was given P3.5 million as first tranche payment and P140,000 for the 3rd tranche was given to MLFI.
KKFI was among the 82 NGOs in the 2013 special audit report of COA on the use of PDAF where funds were transferred “despite the absence of law appropriating or specifically earmarking such funds to be contracted out to NGOs.”
Meanwhile, the audit body said the initial release of P3.5 million to Kasama Inc. lacked certain documents for entitlement to government funds.
“Accreditation documents of Kasama Inc. were not submitted for audit, hence, we were not able to validate whether the NGO was qualified to be awarded the project,” auditors said.
“Likewise, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into between the PFC, Kasama Inc. and the proponent/legislator was not submitted, thus, there is no way to validate the role and deliverables by each of the parties,” it added.
COA wrote the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in August 2014 to verify whether Kasama Inc. is duly registered.
“So far, we have only received the certification from the CDA bearing signature of the Officer-in-Charge, Office of the Executive Director, stating that Kasma Inc. is not registered with CDA,” it said.
The auditors also reported that two of the three NGOs were given the 2013 release although the funds given them in 2011 and 2012 totaling P34.273 million were not yet liquidated.
“The KKFI and MLFI were given subsequent releases of P11.445 million and P140,000, respectively, despite that they have remaining unliquidated funds released to them in CY 2011 amounting to P23.798 million and P10.475 million in CY 2012 or a total of 34.273 million as of December 2013,” they said.
“The non-liquidation by the NGOs of the funds released to them, casts doubt whether the funds released to them were really expended for the purpose,” the auditors added.
They hit the selection of NGOs by “mere endorsements” from lawmakers, saying it was contrary to a Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) resolution that requires bidding.
COA also found that P53 million sourced from the PDAF and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) allocations of eight lawmakers released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) remained unliquidated as of December 31, 2013.
The sum was received from the Natural Resources Development Corporation (NRDC) in 2009 to 2012 and was for the implementation of agro-forestry development projects of PFC.
Funds were subsequently released to various NGOs contracted out by PFC to implement the projects.
The PFC, a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), is a subsidiary of the NDCP which is an attached agency of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).