DBM chief assures error over 'pork' documents won't happen again-A A +A
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
SECRETARY Florencio "Butch" Abad on Wednesday assured that the "clerical error" made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) over the whopping P3 billion pork barrel funds supposedly received by former Compostela Valley representative Manuel "Way Kurat" Zamora will not happen again under his watch.
Abad himself apologized over the matter and explained that the same special allotment release order (Saros) number for a P3-billion nationwide maintenance project of the Department of Public Works and Highways was assigned to a P500,000 multi-purpose building project of Zamora.
Zamora, now Compostela Valley vice governor, used to go to work at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City by riding a bicycle.
Abad, who was appointed budget chief when President Benigno Aquino III assumed office, said the error was committed during a time when Saros are done manually.
"This was an honest mistake. When we took over in 2010, we introduced reforms that would prevent mistakes like this from happening such as presenting all PDAF allocation under one heading in the GAA), putting a cap on PDAF allocation by sticking with the P70 million a year for House members and P200 million for Senators, uploading PDAF projects and releases in real time in the DBM website, computer-generation of SARO releases, among others," he said.
Last week, the Commission on Audit (COA) released its special report on the utilization of priority development assistance funds (PDAF) for the years 2007 to 2009 where it showed that Zamora exceeded his annual P70-million PDAF allocation.
Each year, a congressman receives an allocation of P70 million while senators get P200 million.
But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said COA should have rechecked the documents it received before saying that Zamora misused billions of taxpayers' money.
"It (P3 billion) is so unbelievable that COA should have checked it 10 times before making it the highlight of their report. Also, Secretary Abad should go after who is responsible for the error," Belmonte said.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Cibac Party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna, for his part, said that the DBM team which forwarded the documents to COA should be held responsible for the error.
"It is the DBM team which gave the information to COA who should be responsible. The amount of P3 billion given to a particular representative is already a red flag. That amount is improbable. Good faith dictates that prior to the release of the report attributing it to Way Kurat, they should have validated it," Tugna said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)