Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday, May 16 wants a probe on the alleged misused of millions of pesos funds by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) related to the hosting of the 50th Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit last year, based on a tabloid report. However, the Commission on Audit (COA) reacted.
“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 government funds are legally and properly allocated.” Sen. Trillanes said in his proposed Senate resolution No. 735 that day.
For his source of information, Trillanes cited a May 9 news report by Hataw tabloid which claimed that COA supposedly found “anomalous” the PCOO information campaign that was reportedly allocated with a total budget of P647.11 million. Allegedly, the COA report prompted PCOO Undersecretary Noel Puyat to resign from office.
“Anang source, napuna umano ng Commission on Audit (COA) ang inilunsad na information caravan ng CMASC sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa bunsod nang pagiging chairman ng 50th ASEAN ang Filipinas noong nakalipas na taon.” The Hataw tabloid report entitled “Usec ng PCOO nag-resign (P647.11 milyon hinahanap ng COA)” reads.
And although the Liberal Party (LP) ally senator admitted COA has not yet confirmed the authenticity of the tabloid report, he insisted that there is still a need for PCOO to explain publicly the disbursement of the said funds. Last Friday, Puyat categorically denied the allegations and called the tabloid report as malicious and “fake news.”
“We are confident that all our official transactions have been above-board. In fact, COA has given the PCOO a clean bill represented by certifications of ‘no disallowances’ for the past six audit quarters,” Puyat said. On the other hand, COA Supervising Auditor Edna P. Salaguban clarified that the Hataw tabloid report in question is not true.
“As far as the COA-PCOO Audit Team is concerned, we do not have any knowledge on an ongoing investigation of a P 647.11 Million fund,” Salaguban said in a letter to the PCOO, adding that the COA audit report for 2017 is still ongoing and is yet to be published on its official website as soon as it is done.