Palace to ‘study’ unused P1.41-B donation flagged by COA

Malacanang Palace

The Palace on Friday said it was looking into how to address an unused P1.41-billion donation which had been flagged by the audit commission.

“As per the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Office of the President is already working on the guidelines and studying how to best address the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA), which include how donations will be effectively and efficiently utilized,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said in a statement on Friday.

The COA said in its 2019 audit report released on Thursday that the Office of the President had a donation of P1.41 billion that has remained untouched since Dec. 31, 2019.

News reports have identified the donation as having come from the Lopez-owned company Benpress Corp., although the COA report does not note the source of the donation.

The COA did say that the donation was meant for economic development projects such as agrarian reform, assistance to calamity victims, and rehabilitation of depressed areas.

The COA said the Office of the President did not use the funds due to a lack of policies specific to its utilization.

“Guidelines and work and financial plan (WFP) for the utilization of donations totaling P1,412,943,850.69… were not formulated, hence, benefits that could have been derived therefrom were not attained,” the COA said.

“We reiterated our recommendation and Management agreed to issue the necessary guidelines, and WPF or any other similar documents with the same purpose of utilizing the donated amount, taking into consideration the donation’s objectives and Section 5 of the General Provisions of FY 2019 General Appropriations Act.” — Gillian M. Cortez

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