The Provincial Government of Palawan (PGP) on Saturday, July 17, 2021, has released a statement regarding the alleged mismanagement of ₱120M fund paid by Sunlight Ecotourism Resort in Culion exchange for the dropping of an environmental case filed against the company.
Based on the statement, PGP strongly denied the malicious and unfounded allegation made by the Save Palawan Movement (SPM) about the said issue.
“We categorically deny the said allegation as there was no mismanagement committed in the handling of the said funds. In fact, the whole amount is still very much intact and not a single centavo has been spent because it is the only PCSD that can spend it.” Gov. Jose Chavez Alvarez said.
PGP explained that Provincial Treasurer Elino Mondragon confirmed that based on the signed compromise agreement between the PGP, PCSD, and Sunlight Ecotourism Resort, the said amount was deposited in the Trust Account of the PGP.
As stated in the press statement, Gov. JCA assured that the amount will be utilized as intended which is environmental rehabilitation.
PGP also explained that the Provincial Legal Office has relayed that the Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) simply states that there was only an error in the recording of the collected amount.
PGP added that instead of being treated as “Trust Liabilities”, it was instead placed under “Guaranty Deposits Payable”. The AOM never mentioned anything about loss or mismanagement of the subject funds.
“Moreover, the act of the PGP in creating and maintaining a trust fund for the amount paid by Sunlight Ecotourism Resort is based on a court-approved Compromise Agreement, hence legal for all intents and purposes,” PGP explained.
According to SPM, there was no clear explanation in the COA report on the part of the PGP how and for what purposes these funds were spent. The COA findings must to be looked at by proper government agencies including the Ombudsman with utmost urgency. State auditors had pointed out that many of its previous recommendation earlier audits had been repeatedly ignored.
“SPM demands that a thorough and deeper probe be undertaken on how public funds are being dispensed by the present administration,” SPM said in a statement.