OPPOSITION Senator Antonio Trillanes IV wants the Senate to investigate the P647.11-million budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office following reports that online trolls were using the money.
He filed Senate Resolution 735 on Wednesday that seeks an investigation into how the PCOO used its P647.11-million budget intended for the ‘reintroduction’ of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the public in 2017.
He said the appropriate Senate committee should conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the proper disbursement of the PCOO of its funds.
“We will ask them how they spent the funds and why and where did they sent them,” Trillanes said.
“It appears that the funds were used by the trolls, so they need to explain. This is big money.”
Trillanes underscored the 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 in his resolution that the PCOO launched “One Asean, A Global Player” in 2017, when the Philippines led 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 a total budget of P647.11 million, to be anomalous.
It said the news report had yet to be validated by the COA, but “nonetheless there is still a need for the PCOO to explain publicly the disbursement of the said funds.”
An article posted on the state-run PTV4 quoted Edna Salaguban, COA supervising auditor for the PCOO, as saying they had yet to issue a final audit report on the matter.
It noted that in a letter dated May 10 and addressed to the PCOO management, Salaguban had said that the 2017 Annual Audit Report on the PCOO was still undergoing a 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 of an ongoing investigation of a P647.11-million fund,” the letter was quoted as saying.