COA to Zambales province: Explain P196M intelligence fund spending

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    THE Commission on Audit has issued seven audit observation memoranda (AOMs) to the province of Zambales questioning the disbursement of P196 million for supposed confidential and intelligence activities from 2011 to 2017.

    Based on the 2019 audit report released last June 11, the COA-Intelligence/Confidential Fund Audit Office (ICFAO) said it found “deficiencies and errors” in the liquidation of expenses submitted by the provincial government of Zambales.

    The six AOMs named Gov. Hermogenes E. Ebdane Jr. as disbursing officer involving P160 million CIF while former Gov. Amor D. Deloso is named in the last AOM dated February 19, 2019 involving P36 million.

    According to the audit team, although the provincial government submitted a peace and order plan, the activities listed in it were not assigned estimated costs.

    Under the Department of Interior and Local Government Circular No. 99-65, the Peace and Order Plan is supposed to provide a breakdown of appropriations for programs and activities intended to address criminality and lawlessness.

    The budget for the confidential and intelligence fund is supposed to be computed as 30 percent of the peace and order appropriations of a local government unit. However, the provincial government released the confidential and intelligence fund as cash advances.

    “The annual investment plan of the LGU showed only the total amount for the AIP programs. It did not, however, indicate the individual amount of each AIP activity, thus, validation thereof was not done,” the audit team said.

    A review of the Peace and Order Programs (POP) showed items were included that had no relation to criminality and public order.

    Among the questioned activities included were P45 million “construction of classrooms;” P68 million “infrastructure development;” P43 million “infrastructure development support to education;” and P23.7 million “infrastructure development – farm to market road.”

    “These did not directly address criminality and other lawless activities …and therefore, to be excluded in the computation of confidential fund based on 30 percent total allowable POP of the provincial government,” the COA said.