Villar laments COA bias on pork barrel audit

Manila, Philippines --- Senator Cynthia Villar accused yesterday the Commission on Audit (COA) of taking sides in the audit of fund disbursements of various government entities - where it is strict on Congress members in the auditing of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as "pork barrel," but is soft on "illegitimate" entities.

"COA is very strict on us legitimate members of Congress but is soft on the 'illegitimates'," Villar said.

She was reacting to the failure of the COA to audit with a fine-toothed comb alleged beneficiaries of legislators' pork barrel allocations following allegations that there has been a P10-billion pork barrel scam over the years.

Five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives have been linked to this multi-billion-peso scam.

Since the pork barrel appropriations given by legislators are by law, should be detailed, Villar appeared "confused" why other questionable pork barrel releases have surfaced.

Government rules state that the pork barrel allocations must be specific like river rehabilitation, salaries, equipment, repair of equipment. You just don't give it to one entity. It should be detailed. It is checked by COA. I am surprised why COA has not seen this anomaly. It is audited and their auditing procedures are very strict, she said.

Asked about COA auditing details, Villar said COA is very strict in the details, particularly on how or where the pork barrel funds would go to.

If the details of your project are not spelled out, COA refuses to allow the project to push through.

The lady senator, a former Las Piñas congresswoman, said she finds it surprising why questionable deals in government still take place although COA's strictness is legend.

Villar rued that it is unfair for the legitimate beneficiaries of legislators' pork barrel funds to be smeared in the current probe into the alleged multi-million peso pork barrel scams.

She agreed with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon that the use of PDAF should be limited to eliminate or probably minimize corruption in the disbursement of pork barrel funds.

She said her PADF had been given as medical funds to hospitals for her constituents for their medicines, medical attention, or deduction to their hospital bills.

"Another would be giving funds to DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) when there is calamity and victims of calamities. And of course my advocacy - "hanep buhay." My PDAF will be used to buy machineries for livelihood programs. I give machineries and training. All is above board," she said.

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