SENATE President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto may be right in saying that the P130 billion remaining fund from the Malapaya deep water gas-to-power project is unaccounted for since even officials of the Department of Finance (DOF) had a difficult time explaining where the money went.
During the resumption of the briefing of the Development and Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC) on the 2014 national expenditure at the Senate, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima admitted that the government already spent the fund which was “comingled” with the general funds of the government.
Purisima explained that when the government received the money, it went to the general fund as provided for under Presidential Decree 1234.
PD 1234 states that all income and collections for special or fiduciary funds authorized by law shall be remitted to the Treasury and treated as Special Accounts in the General Fund, and this include the Malampaya royalties.
“It basically created the concept of a special fund, in the general fund.
So the Malampaya fund is treated under that PD and basically it is a ledger that summarizes the receipts and uses. But the cash is already with the general fund. It is not a special fund in the true sense of the word,” Purisima explained.
Senator Serge Osmena wanted to know the fund’s status and how it is being spent by the government.
National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon admitted during the briefing that the government collected P183.57 billion from Malampaya. The total disbursements as of Aug. 29, 2013 was P46.5 billion.
Disbursement during the administration of former president Gloria Arroyo was about P23.6 billion while the present administration already spent P18.5 billion.
When Osmena asked Purisima how the gas fund is being used, the Finance chief said that the money had been spent.
De leon agreed, saying “there is no more cash”.
Osmena noted that the reason why the gas fund is considered part of the President’s pork is because the President has the power to use it on any projects which he deems fit.
“But my own thinking is, throw it ( Malampaya fund) to the general fund and let the executive recommend projects . . . so that it will be more transparent and everybody will be able to take a look at it,” the senator said.