Press Release
September 26, 2006

Drilon alarmed over P17.124 Billion gov't
unliquidated cash advances per COA records

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin M. Drilon today expressed alarm over the whopping P17,124,787,532 worth of unliquidated cash advances of the entire Philippine bureaucracy as reflected in records of the Commission on Audit (COA).

Presiding over the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the proposed 2007 budget of COA, Drilon noted that "the unliquidated cash advances of the different agencies of government and the local government units were staggering and worrisome."

"From the national government, excluding government owned and controlled corporations, the total cash advances unliquidated, is P9,379,342,609," Drilon noted, citing records submitted by COA Chairman Guillermo Carague to the Senate committee. "From government corporations, the total cash advances, which are unliquidated, are P2,664,651,622. From the local government units, a total of P5 billion," he added.

Drilon, who is also Liberal Party (LP) president, pointed out that P2.6 billion of the unliquidated cash advances were due from public employees and officers while P4.8 billion can be attributed to public disbursing officers who hold petty cash.

"There are collecting officers who failed to remit P1.9 billion worth of collection to the national coffers. Should we not impose strictly the rules insofar as timely liquidation is concerned? Do we withhold the salaries of these cash disbursing officers?" Drilon asked Cagarue and the other top COA officials who attended the hearing.

"Failure to liquidate this raises questions on the legitimacy of the expense. Because if the expense is legitimate, there should be no question about immediately liquidating," Drilon said.

During the hearing on the proposed P4.6 billion COA budget next year, Drilon asked Carague to explain what he intended to do with these unliquidated cash advances, which were incurred by public officials.

"They have funds of government in their possession, which they have not liquidated. If only to compel them to liquidate, you should consider withholding the salaries of these people, who failed to account within a certain period of time," Drilon told Carague.

Carague replied that his office has already submitted the records to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission for possible criminal and administrative charges against officials involved.

The COA chairman said he agreed with Drilon's suggestion that salaries of delinquent employees and officials with unliquidated cash advances be subjected to "salary deductions" to settle their accounts.

Carague informed the Senate committee that COA rule requires that all public employees and officials should liquidate cash advances 60 days after the undertaking.

Drilon also said P17 billion can fund construction of 68,000 classrooms at 250,000 each and can very well address the classroom deficiency in the country.

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