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Recto: Let’s amend PD on Malampaya fund use now

The presidential decree (PD) setting the parameters for the use of the Malampaya gas royalties should be amended to ensure that it is used for public welfare and to protect it from abuse, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Thursday.

“Malampaya collections are very large and will get larger. There are many questions on its uses. Better we amend the PD now and decide the best way to utilize this resource to benefit our people and institutionalize its proper use so that whoever becomes president cannot abuse it,” Recto said in a text message to reporters.

Under PD 910 dated March 22, 1976, a special fund was created to finance energy resource-development and exploitation programs and projects of the government and “and for such other purposes as may be hereafter directed by the President.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago also said in a recent radio interview that PD 910 “should be immediately amended and repealed by Congress.”

On the pronouncement of National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon that the P137.3-billion Malampaya fund is intact, Recto, who had earlier called on the Department of Budget and Management to account for the cash balance of the fund, said “fund balances are different from cash balances.”

“Malampaya cash collections are deposited to general fund which is used for cash requirements implementing the GAA [General Appropriations Act]. It is not deposited to a trust fund like the Presidential Social Fund, which earns interest.  If there is P132 billion available, why are we not spending it? Don’t we have a mechanism like the disbursement acceleration program, etc.?” Recto said.

The senator, who was chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in the previous Congress, also released to the media a copy of a letter sent to him by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad dated July 5, 2011, addressing Recto’s desire for transparency on how the Malampaya fund is used.

In that 2011 letter, Abad explained to Recto that “for every supplemental disbursement charged against the Malampaya fund which is not within the approved annual fiscal and expenditure programs, the Bureau of Treasury will have to borrow cash to finance the said disbursement.”

At that time, the fund balance of the Malampaya fund was at P79.48 billion.

“This disbursement is ‘over-and-above’ the annual expenditure program and is ‘deficit-creating,’ unless these are offset against other programmed expenditures. In other words, there’s no P79.48 billion in cash sitting in any bank and ready to be used by the government at any time,” Abad explained to him in that letter.






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