By Francis Wakefield
Presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to return P192.5 million that had been released in 2012 for road projects in Maguindanao under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) program but have remained unimplemented.
In a meeting on Tuesday with AFP officials led by 52nd Engineer Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Dionisio Baudin Jr., Dureza pointed to the delays in the implementation of the P100-million concreting of the Lamud-Ganassi-Biarong road in the municipality of South Upi and the P150-million concreting of the Makir-Sibuto-Kinabaka road in the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat.
The projects were supposed to have been implemented in the previous administration starting July 2012, with the funds already being “downloaded” to the AFP.
With funding from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) released an initial amount of P192.5 million for the implementation of the projects.
The original project amount of P250 million was not fully released due to the subsequent Supreme Court ruling declaring the DAP funds illegal.
When Dureza took over OPAPP in mid-2016, it was noted that the delays had caused serious concern among the peace constituents in the areas.
OPAPP wrote the AFP asking that the unused money be returned due to the considerable lapse of time and the possibility that the project cost now would vary from the program of work costs six years ago.
The AFP representatives called by Dureza to a meeting on July 10 concurred with his decision that the long unused amount be returned to the government coffers, without prejudice to securing future fresh funds based on the expected different costing due to the considerable lapse of about six years.
For his part, Baudin said the AFP “will comply (with) whatever instruction is given to us.”
Due to the long delay, the unused funds would be classified as “unliquidated” funds by the Commission on Audit unless “returned.”