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MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Audit (COA) chair Grace Pulido-Tan was ordered by the Supreme Court to respond to a petition asking for the return of misused discretionary funds to the national treasury, covering billions of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009, Thursday.

The petition was filed by former Manila City councilor Greco Belgica, Reverend Jose Gonzales of the Capitol Christian Leaders and Bishop Reuben Amante of the group Bible Mode, who asked the COA chair to release the NDs from 2007 to 2009.

In a resolution dated June 10 but released last July 2, the high court directed Tan and COA special audit office director Susana Garcia to answer the petition for mandamus within 10 days. The high court also ordered the agency to issue notices of disallowance in relation to the P6.2 billion (about $141.1 million) pork barrel.

The Philippine Star reported that in a 21-page petition for mandamus, Belgica said Tan has reneged on her promise during oral arguments on the PDAF case last October to issue the NDs amounting to P6.156 billion.

“It is crystal clear that the tenacity of the respondents not to issue the NDs, despite being reminded of their duties/promise, constitutes defiance of the commands of the fundamental law, the Administrative Code and Republic Act 6713 (General Auditing Code) and the 2009 Revised Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Audit,” he said.

Belgica also said such act constitutes “inexcusable neglect, paranoia-like fear, and indifference anathema to our system of public accountability and to the principle of transparency enshrined in the Constitution.”

Belgica further stated Tan, who applied for a post at the high tribunal, should show “honesty and integrity by showing transparency, in all transactions in the government, rather than protecting certain alleged misconduct.”

Furthermore, the COA said via InterAksyon that it had found irregularities in the use of P6.156 billion of the P46 billion PDAF it had audited.

The amount was used to fund more than 700 projects of various NGOs nationwide with 10 NGOs linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who allegedly engineered the pork barrel scam that saw the embezzlement of P10 billion in pork barrel funds.

The High Court eventually ruled in favor of the petitioners and declared the PDAF unconstitutional.

-JEFFREY D. CONSULTADO
LNU, ABCOM INTERN