• COA report free from political colors-Palace


    The administration has nothing to do with the Commission on Audit report presented to the Senate last week seen by critics as “selective”—only pinning down the members of the opposition—a Palace official said on Monday.

    Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing that the COA report presented by Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee last week is free from any political affiliation.

    “Let me emphasize, the COA special audit report covered only the years 2007 to 2009. That is what chair Grace Tan testified for. So whatever its content is, it’s not covered by our administration,” he said.

    Only 10 out of more than 80 bogus non-government organizations were included in the Senate hearing last week and most lawmakers that are said to be involved are opposition members including Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

    He said that there are no allies of the current administration in the COA report because it only covers 2007 to 2009, which were all under former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.

    “The people wonder why there were no allies of the administration [that are included in the COA report]. That time was 2007 to 2009,” he said. “Now, we have nothing to do with whatever Chairman Grace Tan testified for because it is her who is involved in the report and it is there for all to see.”

    He said that the COA report is “devoid of any political affiliation” and it will be one of the bases of the Inter-agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC)’s probe.

    Critics feared that only the opposition members will be pinned down in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, especially with the surrender of Janet Lim-Napoles, the central figure in the pork barrel scam, to the president on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, Lacierda also defended the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that is also being dragged to the pork barrel controversy as the agency was asked not to “wash its hands” in the misallocation of funds.

    He explained that while the DBM prepares the allocation to priority development assistance fund (PDAF)—P70 million to congressmen and P200 million to senators—the fund released to doubtful non-government organizations are left upon the discretion of the lawmakers.

    “So where do you lay the blame? It’s not with DBM,” he said. “So P70 million is allocated in the budget, but as to the usage, the congressman is the one who has the discretion where his PDAF goes, it’s a lump sum appropriation.” JHOANNA BALLARAN


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