SC to COA: Comment on alleged inaction over PDAF
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Commission on Audit to respond to a petition asking for the return of misused discretionary funds to the national treasury.
In a resolution dated June 10 but released Wednesday, July 2, the SC ordered COA to answer a petition that asked the court to order the agency to issue notices of disallowance in relation to the P6.2 billion (about $141.1 million) in misused Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The petition was filed by 3 anti-corruption advodates and a bishop.
A 2013 COA special audit report covering years 2007 to 2009 shows the P6.2 billion in PDAF went to 82 dubious non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The PDAF, a lump sum distributed to lawmakers to fund their community development pet projects, was declared unconstitutional by the SC in a historic November 2013 ruling.
The SC petitioners argued that failing to issue the notices of disallowance (NDs) is a breach of duty by the COA.
COA's issuance of NDs will force either the lawmakers or the NGOs to return the misused funds. Parties can still file an appeal against the notices, based on COA's rules of procedure.
Petitioners before the SC are former senatorial candidate Greco Belgica, Christian Bishop Reuben Abante, as well as anti-corruption advocates Quintin Paredes San Diego and Jose L Gonzales.
COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and COA Special Audits Office Director Susana Garcia were named as respondents.
Belgica said Tan already told the Court on October 8, 2013 during the oral arguments on PDAF that COA was in the process of issuing the NDs. Belgica was also one of the petitioners who assailed the constitutionality of PDAF before the SC.
The High Court eventually ruled in favor of the petitioners and declared the PDAF unconstitutional. – Rappler.com