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Aquino’s ‘confidential expenses’ doubles in 2012

President Benigno Aquino III appeared to have taken a drastic change in spending behavior in 2012 by taking out P648 million from the expense item that his government used to justify the continued detention of predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a belatedly-released 2012 annual audit report for 2012, the Commission on Audit disclosed that Aquino’s office expenses nearly doubled for the year, compared to the 2011 expenditure of P1.134 billion.

The audit report released Monday night, disclosed that Malacanang was more active in spending since the Aquino government took over three years ago.  Total expenditures reached P2.213 billion.

State auditors noted that the item “Confidential Expenses” came out with a huge figure of P638 million, the single biggest expenditure made by the chief executive.

A comparative presentation of the 2011 MOOE showed there was not a single centavo spent for this same item for that year.

Confidential expenses are given more leeway in audit examination.

In the Notes to Financial Services, COA explained that only P500 million were spent for confidential expenses in 2012 and the difference of P138 million should have been posted as “prior year’s liquidations” for the same purpose.

This is the same expense item that the Aquino government used in filing the plunder charge against Arroyo, now a congresswoman from Pampanga.

Arroyo, who has been under hospital detention for over two years now, was accused of allowing the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to transfer operational budget for intelligence and confidential expenditures.

The second biggest expense item in the 2012 MOOE was identified as “repair and maintenance – aircraft and aircraft ground equipment” amounting to P264.107 million compared to just P53.94 million the previous year.

State auditors said the increase is “supported by a memorandum of agreement between the Office of the President and the Philippine Air Force.” They did  not elaborate.

Personal Services (PS) rose by P36.35 million from P504.33 million in 2011 to P540.684 million in 2012.

Salaries for regular and contractual employees accounted for P361.48 million in 2012 up by P55 million from the 2011 sum of P305.13 million.

Under the PS item, “other bonuses and allowances” increased year-on-year from P3.23 million to P10.92 million even as “yearend bonuses” grew from P27.03 million to P31.58 million.

On the other hand,  “other personnel benefits” dropped to P11.03 million in 2012 compared to P41.52 million in 2011 while “terminal leave benefits” also went down to P3.19 million from P23.64 million over the same period.

Expenses for foreign travels in 2012 also rose to P147.24 million from only P84.41 million from the year earlier.

Representation expenses more than doubled over the same period from P30.6 million to P67.38 million.

Another P5 million went to “awards and indemnities” where not a centavo was allocated in 2011.

Advertising expenses grew to P4.9 million in 2012 compared to only P1.88 million the year before.