Expenses of Duterte's office up by ₱12.5 billion in 2017

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 6) — The Office of the President (OP) spent ₱15.83 billion in 2017, an increase of almost 500 percent from its spending the previous year, a Commission on Audit report showed.

The financial statement attached to the COA's annual report on President Rodrigo Duterte's office showed the huge surge in expenses compared to ₱3.31 billion spent in 2016. Duterte took office on June 30, 2016.

But COA did not flag the ₱12.5-billion increase in the OP's expenses in its findings. Instead, it took note of billions of pesos in unused budget.

How did the chief executive spend the multibillion-peso funds?

A large chunk worth ₱14.94 billion went to maintenance and other operating expenses.

ASEAN hosting: ₱3.79 billion

The COA said the OP used ₱3.79 billion for the year-long activities related to the country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the summit and other related meetings that gathered world leaders in Manila in November.

The amount is just one-third of the ₱11-billion budget for the ASEAN hosting, and the COA said this contributed to the low utilization of the office’s budget.

The audit agency said the OP's obligations and disbursements came up to only 69 percent or ₱11.6 billion of its ₱16.74 billion approved budget, and 51 percent or ₱8.57 billion of its total allotments also worth around ₱16.74 billion.

It also faulted the OP for ₱6.4 million in unliquidated cash advances.

“Management also commented that this was due to voluminous transactions due to hosting of the ASEAN [Summit] in 2017,” the COA said in its report.

It said OP agreed to implement its recommendation to hasten the review of liquidation reports. Late reporting or cash advances violates Section 89 of Presidential Decree 1445 which states cash advances shall be liquidated as soon as their purposes are served.

Intel funds: ₱2.5 billion

The OP spent ₱2.5 billion in “confidential, intelligence, and extraordinary expenses” in 2017, according to its financial statement. 

The OP’s confidential and intelligence fund was only less than a billion (over ₱715 million) in 2016.

The Duterte administration has been criticized for allocating billions of pesos for its intelligence funds. It has said the fund will be used in the fight against drugs and criminality – a major platform of the Duterte administration.

Professional services, aircraft repairs

The OP said it paid over ₱3 billion for consultants’ fees, ₱1.67 billion for rent and lease expenses, and ₱1.5 billion for representation expenses, most of which were for the ASEAN Summit.

The cost of repairs and maintenance expenses of transportation equipment rose from almost ₱60 million in 2016 to over ₱188 million in 2017. Ninety-four percent of this amount or over ₱177 million was allotted for major repairs in the Presidential Airlift Wing (PAW)’s aircrafts.

But COA in its findings said ₱51.5 million worth of aircraft spare parts and materials remained uninstalled or unused by the end of 2017.

It said the OP agreed to its recommendations, including the conduct of inventory at the PAW warehouse to monitor the utilization of items.

The Philippine Air Forces' PAW aims to "provide safe, secure and effective air transportation for the President of the Republic of the Philippines, the immediate members of his/her family, visiting Heads of State, State guests, and other VVIPs," its says in its mission statement.