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Trillanes wants probe on PCOO info caravan

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 5/16/2018 Galarpe, Karen
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sept. 2017 © Senate PRIB/Cesar Tomambo Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sept. 2017

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed Wednesday a resolution seeking an investigation into how the Presidential Communications Operations Office used its P647.11 million budget for the ‘reintroduction’ of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the public in 2017.

In Resolution 735, Trillanes said PCOO launched ‘One ASEAN, A Global Player’ in 2017, when the Philippines chaired the ASEAN, to spread awareness and educate Filipinos about the organization through roadshows and information caravans.

The resolution said a single news report published on May 9 alleged that the Commission on Audit found the information caravan which was allocated with a total budget of P647.11 million to be anomalous.

It added the news report has yet to be officially validated by the COA; “nonetheless, there is still a need for the PCOO to explain publicly the disbursement of the said funds.”

An article posted on state-run PTV4 quoted Edna Salaguban, COA Supervising Auditor for PCOO, as saying that they have yet to issue a final audit report on the matter.

It stated that in a letter dated May 10 and addressed to PCOO management, Salaguban said that the 2017 Annual Audit Report on PCOO is still undergoing review and the earlier news report “could not have been lifted from [the] audit report.”

“As far as the COA-PCOO Audit Team is concerned, we do not have any knowledge on an ongoing investigation of a PHP647.11-million fund,” the letter was quoted.

The Senate resolution stated that there is an immediate need to look into the alleged irregularities “in order to ensure that government funds are legally and properly allocated, directed, and spent towards the sole purpose for which the funds were allocated.”

Trillanes said he had initial information that the budget was used for online trolls.

“Tatanungin natin sila kung paano niyo ginastos ito kung bakit or saan nila ito gagamitin. Ito na nga lumabas na sa info na ginamit ito sa mga trolls so they need to explain. Malaking pera ito at based sa ating assessment, wala silang paggagamitan nito,” he told reporters. —KG, GMA News

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