AFP explains retention of 5 COA-flagged bank accounts

Published October 4, 2021, 11:31 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has justified their decision to keep five of the 20 “unauthorized” bank accounts that were previously flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA). These accounts reportedly contain some P1.3 billion to fund the on-going modernization and other programs of the military.

(File photo: Philippine Army)

Colonel Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, said one bank account was registered under the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) while the remaining four were with the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The bank account registered under UCPB with account number 00-140-102888-6 is used for the “payment of procurement under the AFP modernization program,” which is currently on the “Horizon” 2 stage.

“There are several multi-year contracts being serviced by this account. Closing it now will jeopardize the payment schedule,” Zagala explained.

He said the AFP has already requested the Permanent Committee to retain the account “until the procurement that it supports is completed.” It was not revealed what modernization program the bank account is for.

Meanwhile, the four bank accounts under Land Bank of the Philippines have account numbers 0582-1004-97, 1672-1004-17, 0552-1057-02, and 0662-1058-00.

Zagala bared that the accounts support various programs of the military.

Among these is being managed by the AFP Educational Benefit System Office where the funds are used to pay for the scholarships of children of soldiers who died or got wounded in the line of duty. Another bank account is managed by the AFP Real Estate Office where the funds consist of rentals of military quarters that are also used to repair government quarters and development housing projects for the troops.

Another bank account holds the funds which are used to pay for the salaries and allowances of technical and administrative officers namely military doctors, nurses, dentists, and other healthcare workers. The last account is where the proceeds of the sale of bid documents are deposited for payment of honoraria and to support related administrative requirements of the AFP Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members.

Zagala said that the AFP was studying how the five accounts can be merged “to reduce the accounts further to two or three.”

“The AFP assures the public that all funds in these accounts are properly accounted for and disbursed in accordance with accounting regulations,” he added.

The COA, in its 2020 audit report on the AFP’s General Headquarters (GHQ), disclosed that the military was maintaining 20 bank accounts containing P1.8 billion “despite the absence of express written authority from the Permanent Committee.” Fifteen of the 20 unauthorized bank accounts have already been closed by the AFP.

Under Section 45 of the Administrative Code of 1987, the Permanent Committee shall “monitor and evaluate the activities and balances of all funds of the national government other than the general fund.”

“We recommend that the [AFP] management promptly comply with the cited rules and close the stated bank accounts, or obtain authority from the Permanent committee for its retention,” the COA had said.