The National Museum Rank and File Employees Association (NMRFEA) on Friday called for the resignation of the National Musuem’s officials involved in the museum’s P331-M endowment fund controversy.
NMRFEA urged Director Jeremy Barnes, Assistant Directors Angel Bautista and Ana Maria Theresa Labrador, and Ramon Del Rosario to file their resignation from their posts for allegedly being involved in the transfer of the endowment fund from the Landbank of the Philippines to two private banks, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco de Oro (BDO), which violates the General Appropriations Act.
“It is very clear under the [General] Appropriations Act that it is illegal to invest government money into private banks,” said NMRFEA Vice President Joseph Garcia. “The directors said that they can transfer the fund because they have the authority to manage it, but the problem is there was no proper recording of the transfer.”
A Commission on Audit (COA) report disclosed that the transfer was not accounted and monitored despite COA demanding Barns and company to do so. Because of this, COA sent a letter to Barns declaring him liable for the unaccounted amount after failing to comply with COA’s request.
According to NMRFEA, the unaccounted amount has now reached more than P331 million, and is still increasing because of the private banks’ interest rates.
“We already wrote to BPI and BDO requesting for the disclosure of the exact amount and the interest rates, but they also ignored us,” said Garcia.
In a meeting with COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan on July 4, Barns promised to return the said amount within a month. But more than a month has passed now and Barns has yet to fulfill his promise.
This prompted NMRFEA to file complaints to the Sandiganbayan, COA, and the Office of the President against the four, but “no concrete result has come out to date.”
“Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the employees of the National Museum were given gag orders and were barred from disclosing related information to the media. This is clearly against democracy,” Garcia said.
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-National Capital Region (BAYAN-NCR) Secretary-General Mark Louie Aquino said that the current administration is not serious in its drive against corruption, and urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to sack the officials involved in the scam.
“We challenge him to heed the discontented employees of the National Museum and sack Del Rosario and some members of the board who have been involved in the scam. By simply seeing the issue of misusing public funds as a mere betrayal of public trust, then some people must be held liable of their actions,” Aquino said in the statement.