Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma could not hide his dismay when answering allegations that the administration has drained the nation’s coffers.
At a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Coloma scored the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) over accusations that the Aquino administration has depleted the 2016 budget leaving the administration of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte with only 16 percent.
“Allegations of the government’s ‘mad rush to spend during the election season’ leaving the incoming administration with ‘only 16 percent of the National Budget’ are untrue and without factual basis,” Coloma said.
“These statements only reflect a lack of knowledge and understanding on how the National Budget is actually spent,” he added.
Coloma confirmed that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has announced the release of P2.5 trillion out of the P3.002-trillion National Budget to government agencies.
However, he explained that it did not mean that the funds, which represent 83.5 percent of the total 2016 budget, were already spent.
“In our national budgeting process, the word ‘release’ simply means ‘authority to obligate’ what is in the GAA (General Appropriations Act). It does not equate to disbursements or actual spending as the funds still need to be obligated first before these can be disbursed by the government agencies,” he said.
The Palace official stressed that the complete budgeting process involves three steps such as “release, obligation and disbursement”.
He noted that agencies must secure work and financial plan and Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) from the DBM before they could obtain their checks.
Coloma said as of the first quarter of the year, total funds obligated and covered by NCAs only reached P464.33 billion.
“Kaya’t malinaw naman po, ilang percent lang ‘yung 464 out of 3.002 trillion, as of the first quarter of the year. If the first quarter of the year is one-fourth, hindi dapat na lagpas-lagpasan ‘yun to one-fourth of the total. Parang one-seventh lang ‘yun, ‘yung 464 would only be one-seventh or one-sixth of the total,” he said.
He likewise lambasted the media for “irresponsible” reporting saying that the national budget is a “sacred” matter that should not be used as instrument for media spin and black operations.
“Hindi po dapat ito pinaglalaruan sa aktuwal at maging sa kaisipan lamang…Para naman yata pong napakairesponsable ng mga magsasabi ng ganyan at ‘yung mga mag-uulat ng ganyan…,” he said.
He assured that the incoming administration would have enough funds to be used in running the country.
“The Aquino administration has always adhered to the principles of sound fiscal management in handling the people’s funds and shall pass on to the incoming administration a robust, liquid and financially-stable national coffers,” he said.