The Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief insisted on Thursday that the intelligence fund for the poll body was approved by the Office of the President and therefore aboveboard.
“There is clearance from Malacañang… all the supporting documents are there,” Chairman Sixto Brillantes said in justifying the controversial fund.
On Wednesday, former Comelec commissioner Augusto “Gus” Lagman said officials of the poll body receive “intelligence funds” which they do not liquidate.
Lagman said he himself received P1.25 million as “I.F.” during his term but he returned the amount.
He admitted, however, that he deposited the money in his bank account for future use.
After the incident, the Comelec Director for Finance, which he didn’t identify, asked him to sign a document so that the intelligence fund would automatically be liquidated even without them submitting receipts.
Brillantes questioned Lagman’s motive in making the expose and belied Lagman’s claim that someone asked him to sign a document as a way to liquidate the money.
“Maybe he is trying to clear his name. I really don’t know why he did it,” Brillantes said of Lagman.
He said Lagman was lying when he claimed that he was asked to sign the document. “That’s a big lie. He returned the money because he wasn’t confirmed, and he was leaving (Comelec). He needed to return the amount because it was unspent,” Brillantes said.
He questioned why Lagman accepted the money in the first place. “He received the money in August, and he returned it in March. So he held on to the money for several months,” he said.
Brillantes said that he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of the intelligence funds because it is legitimate. He even chastised Lagman for insinuating that he is the only one who returned the funds.
Brillantes admitted that he had already received the intelligence fund for 2013 and distributed it to the commissioners.
However, he refused to give out any details.
Commissioners Elias Yusoph and Christian Lim declined to comment on the issue. Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Grace Padaca, Luie Guie, Al Parreño did not return the calls or reply to text queries from The Manila Times.
JOHANNA M. SAMPAN