OP crafts guidelines on efficient use of fund donated by Lopez firm

Published October 9, 2020, 12:57 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Office of the President has started to craft the guidelines on the efficient use of a fund donated by a Lopez-owned corporation following the concerns raised by the Commission on Audit (COA).

The President’s office is also looking into efforts to address other findings raised by the audit commission in its latest report, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

The audit agency had earlier called the attention of OP over the unused P1.4 billion donation from Benpres Corporation made several years ago. The alleged irregular foreign travels made by some Palace executives were also questioned by the state auditors.

“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,” Roque said.

In a latest report, COA said it has recommended to the President’s office to adopt guidelines and work and financial plan on the use of the donated amount but to no avail. 

The donation, made in 1990 by Benpres Corporation, now known Lopez Holdings Corporation, could have been spent for economic development projects and assistance to calamity-hit communities, among others, according to the commission. 

The same COA observation was made in the 2018 audit report on OP.

In the latest audit report, COA also reportedly flagged certain foreign travels made by some officials under the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for General Administration (ODESGA).

The state auditors found that 31 travel requests violated Memorandum Circular No. 35  that states requests for travel authority must be submitted to the Malacanang Records Section 10 working days before departure or in extremely justifiable cases, not later than two working days. 

Such violations reportedly led to the delayed processing and release of travel authorities.

The Palace directive, issued in 2017, stated the rules and regulations on foreign travel authorities, travel entitlements, and travel tax exemptions that require the approval of the Office of the President.