Ombudsman urged: Resolve missing P170-million OPAPP fund

The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process expressed hope on Monday that there would be a resolution with regards to the ongoing probe on the reported missing funds at the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process (OPAPP) totalling P170 million.

In an interview at the sidelines of the Peace Forum for Sustained Partnership held at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City on Monday, Peace Process Adviser Secretary Annabelle T. Abaya said she is confident that the Ombudsman’s Office, which is leading the probe on the missing funds, will be able to finish its investigation soon.

The alleged missing funds, it was recalled, was supposedly intended for the government’s P500-million Social Integration Program (SIP).

Abaya said that under the program, New People’s Army (NPA) rebel returnees are given P20,000 each upon their ‘surrender’ and an additional P50,000 for the turnover of weapons with promises of jobs and livelihood projects.

“Yes, hopefully there will be a resolution to it. They (resident Ombudsman handling the case) are currently conducting a thorough probe on the matter,” Abaya said.

Abaya, whose term will end on June 30, said the budget for the SIP was released in two tranches amounting to P250 million each since 2009.

She explained that half of the P500 million for the program were already used in just one year and that only 36 percent of the budget went to the intended recipients. She said some of the money was used to buy cars, set-up and beautification of offices, representation, travel, supplies, for allowances, bonuses, and other perks.

“A total of P170 million of the P250 million remain unaccounted for,” Abaya said.

“Money in allowances, bonuses and perks were liberally given but not in accordance with law. Funds, assets, office property, and equipment were unaccounted for. Documentation was missing or defective. We couldn’t even find the registration papers of 14 new cars.Of these, two cars were missing for four months but then suddenly manifested in our parking lot, without keys and papers. It was only four months after I joined that we were able to fork out the registration papers. I was initially told we had 24 cars. I found out we had more than 60 cars in various parts of the country, some in various stages of rot and decay,” Abaya claimed.

Abaya said that at least 10 to 15 OPAPP officials, who were relieved from their posts due to their alleged involvement in the anomaly, are presently facing charges before the Ombudsman’s Office.

Abaya said a reorganization of OPAPP also resulted in the downsizing of its personnel from 350 to 270 people, some of whom were part of the questionable activities.

“My people call it “right-size.” First of all, those who were part of questionable activities had to go. Second, those who didn’t have the qualifications or did not have the specific fit for the positions available also had to go. We realized that we are doing a disservice by keeping them when we are not contributing to their personal growth,” Abaya said.

Abaya also cited the role of the directors within the organization in her efforts of cleansing OPAPP of corruption.

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