Contrary to claims made by a Senator earlier this week, the Malampaya fund remains intact in the nation's coffers, the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) said on Wednesday.
Collections and government shares for the fund are duly credited and booked under a Special Account in the General Fund managed by the bureau, the BTr said, following claims made by Sen. Ralph Recto that some P130 billion in revenues from the Malampaya project are unaccounted for.
The Senator earlier said of the P170 billion of royalties earned from the project since 2002, only P25 billion were disbursed by the Arroyo administration and P15 billion were disbursed by the Aquino administration, leaving a balance of P130 billion in the Malampaya fund.
President Aquino could face possible criminal charges at the end of his term unless the Palace accounts for this balance, Recto added.
Treasurer Rosalia de Leon denied this, however, saying "Sen. Recto's claims are unfounded and misleading. The remaining Malampaya Fund balance - all amounting to P137.288 billion - is not 'gone,' as he says, but perfectly intact in the National Treasury."
The total amount deposited by the Energy department in the Malampaya Fund from March 2002 to September 2013 amounted to P179.338 billion, while total Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) disbursement during the same period amounted to P42.050 billion, the BTr said.
The Malampaya fund, royalties coming from a gas project off the coast of Palawan which began in 2001, is primarily intended for energy-related projects. In October 2009, however, President Arroyo issued Executive Order (EO) 848, allowing her to use these funds beyond energy projects. It is considered income authorized by law, the BTr explained, that shall be remitted to the National Treasury.
Plunder and graft charges for the alleged abuse of the Malampaya fund were last week filed against 24 individuals, including former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Agrarian Reform Sec. Nasser Pangandaman, and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
According to the Justice department, the respondents in the complaint conspired to steal millions in funds through bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) allegedly set up by Napoles.
Napoles, who is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa Laguna, has also been tagged as the alleged brains behind the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam, wherein lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were funneled to fake NGOs involved in ghost projects purportedly set up by the businesswoman.
The Malampaya funds allegedly cornered by individuals involved in the scam were supposed to benefit the victims of Tropical Storm "Ondoy" and Typhoon "Pepeng" in 2009.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda meanwhile assured the public that the President has been judicious and prudent in spending the Malampaya fund, pointing out that Aquino only spent this fund for energy related projects.
"We want to be sure we vet projects properly. In the past you'll see pernicious use of Malampaya funds not for energy related projects," Lacierda said.
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