Solon: Where’s the P900M?

A LEFTIST lawmaker on Friday asked the Aquino administration to account for all the expenditures from Malampaya fund that is sourced from the royalties for the Malampaya gas reserve.

“Last year, former Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan testified before the Senate saying that out of the P170-billion Malampaya fund, P33 billion has been released to various national government agencies as of June 2013,” Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said.

“Of that amount, it has been alleged that P900 million has been channeled to bogus non-government organizations,” he added, adding that the questionable fund release is already under investigation by the Ombudsman.

Ridon, member of the Makabayan Bloc, lamented the failure of the government to account for P32 billion in Malampaya fund releases under the Aquino administration.

“We’re talking about an awful lot of public funds that have yet to be fully audited,” he said.

Malacañang has earlier stated that Aquino had authorized the use of the Malampaya Fund for 10 projects.

Ridon said the releases included P3.6 billion for the fuel requirements of the National Power Corp., P450 million for the Pantawid Pasada program, P5 billion for “upgrade of capability requirement for 2011 relative to the security and protection of the Malampaya natural gas project,” P1.9 billion for barangay electrification projects, and P1.3 billion for the acquisition of two Coast Guard vessels from the United States.

“There are several projects in the list that are vaguely energy-related, such as the purchase of the US surplus warship by the military,” Ridon said.

He said the Supreme Court has ruled that the Malampaya Fund should be used only for energy development projects.

Citing the 2016 Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing data, Ridon said the government has again used P5.16 billion from the Malampaya funds in 2014.

“Each year, the government is tapping the Malampaya funds to the tune of billions, yet it is not clear to the public where these funds are going,” Ridon said.

“We demand a detailed report on the use of Malampaya funds under the Aquino administration. The use of billions of pesos in gas reserve profits should be disclosed to the public. Otherwise, it will be prone to abuse,” Ridon said.

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