Press Release
September 26, 2006

Transcript of Sen. Franklin M. Drilon's press conference

Q: On unliquidated cash advance

SFMD: Per documents submitted by the Commission on Audit (COA), there is a total of 17.1 billion in unliquidated advances in the entire bureaucracy. From the national government and its attached agencies, a total of P9.3 billion in unliquidated cash advances. From the government owned and controlled corporations, P2.6 billion and from the local government units, P5 billion. We find this alarming. Many of these accounts are over one, two, three years old. The collectability of these accounts is already in doubt. We have urged the COA to impose strict measures in order that these amounts can be liquidated, including the possibility of withholding the salaries of the officers whose accounts are outstanding. We cannot continue to tolerate this year in and year out. We see adverse opinions of the COA on the different agencies of government. We should not tolerate this. These are funds held by various disbursement officers and they should be responsible for liquidating these amounts.

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. We have urged the COA to impose strict rules insofar as liquidation of these accounts is concerned.

We also urged the Department of Budget and Management and Malacañang to observe the provisions of the Constitution, insofar as fiscal autonomy of the Constitutional offices is concerned. Under our Constitution, constitutional offices are given fiscal autonomy. The amounts appropriated for them should be automatically released. This provision is designed to maintain the independence of the Constitutional Commissions; COA, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Elections, Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Human Rights. These agencies are supposed to be independent. The framers of our Constitution deemed it proper that to enhance this independence and give meaning to the independence of these Constitutional agencies, they should enjoy fiscal autonomy, which means automatic releases. From the testimony of the heads of these agencies, it would appear that they would have to beg for the releases of their funds from the DBM, which does not augur well for their independence. We should not tolerate this practice. We therefore urge DBM and Malacañang to follow the letter of the Constitution, which is also reiterated in the general provisions of the General Appropriations Act.

Q: Sa total P17.1 billion, minus P5 billion from LGUs, the rest is from the Executive branch?

SFMD: No, the rest would be national government and government owned and controlled corporations. The Office of the President is P39,756,689. The total for the Executive branch is P1,505,154, 150.17 For the legislative branch, the total is P25,387,026.03

Q: Just to give the figure a face, iyong P17 billion, what does it mean to an ordinary man?

SFMD: If you consider that one classroom costs P250,000, you divide P17 billion by 250,000. We are not saying that the entire amount was improperly spent. What we are saying is that this amount appears outstanding. Maybe, part of it could still be liquidated. Some part could no longer be liquidated because it has been there for quite a while. Much as we would want to put a face to it, we couldn't. Anyway, if you divide P17 billion by 250,000, you have 68,000 classrooms.

Q: Could have been used to run an entire department?

SFMD: Certainly. If you look at the budgets of the departments, it's much less than P17 billion.

Q: What is required by law, liquidation should be completed within?

SFMD: Within 60 days from the time the activity is finished. The liquidation is supposed to be done within 60 days after the activity has been completed. Meaning, for example, that if P10,000 is advanced for training, the training is on January 1. You are supposed to liquidate the P10,000 by March 1. That is the rule.

Q: What is the penalty for this?

SFMD: If they failed to totally liquidate, it should be charged against whatever monies is due them when they retire. It can be deducted because these are unliquidated cash advances.

Q: This is for a period of three years?

SFMD: No, it's an accumulated cash advances. We do not know the aging. It's difficult to trace the aging. It could be very voluminous.

Q: Failure to liquidate can translate to malversation?

SFMD: It can translate to malversation if indeed, it cannot be liquidated after demands are made on them. Because these are monies, in effect held in trust by the disbursing officers. (end)

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