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Trillanes seeks probe into PCOO's 'anomalous' P647-M ASEAN info caravan

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has sought a Senate investigation into the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s alleged anomalous use of P647.11 million for an information caravan during the country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution 735 on Wednesday, May 16. The resolution was based on a media report alleging that the Commission on Audit found the disbursement questionable.

Trillanes said while this has yet to be officially validated by the COA, there is “a need for PCOO to explain publicly the disbursement of the said funds.”

“There is an immediate need to look into the alleged irregularities in the disposition of PCOO’s budget and its irregular expenditures for the aforementioned information caravan in order to ensure that the government funds are legally and properly allocated, directed and spend towards the sole purpose for which the funds were allocated,” Trillanes said in his resolution.

Asked if he has documents, Trillanes said: "Sila ang pagpapaliwanagin natin bilang part ng oversight functions ng Kongreso. Gusto naming malaman paano niyo ginastos (We would ask them to explain as part of Congress' oversight function. We want to know how they spent the funds)."

The senator, in the same interview, also alleged that the fund is meant to finance the administration's troll operations.

In a report in state-run PTV, Edna Salaguban, COA Supervising Auditor for PCOO, was quoted as saying that the media report “could not have been lifted from [the] audit report.”

“As far as the COA-PCOO Audit Team is concerned, we do not have any knowledge on an ongoing investigation of a P647.11-million fund,” Salaguban was quoted as saying. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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