No coup plot brewing, security forces assure

AFP soldiers military

THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday assured that state security forces do not have any plan of staging a coup d’ etat soon. AFP Spokesperson BGen. Edgard A. Arevalo said the President’s statement on Tuesday before a Philippine Air Force (PAF) event on Tuesday evening was just a random remark. “We have, time and again assured him, as we reassure him today, that we in the AFP shall constantly and will remain loyal to the flag, to the constitution, and to the Filipino people whom we swore to protect with our lives,” said Mr. Arevalo in a statement. For his part, PNP chief Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde said: “I can assure the President, I can assure the public na wala pong planong ganyan ang PNP (PNP does not have any plan like that).” President Rodrigo R. Duterte, during his speech at the PAF 72nd anniversary celebration, called on the AFP and the PNP to refrain from staging a coup d’etat during his term. Meanwhile, exiled communist leader Jose Maria C. Sison reacted that Mr. Duterte is now afraid that security forces would turn their backs on him anytime. “Duterte is having coup jitters. He is feeling the heat and is getting wet in his pants. He anticipates that the people can rise in gigantic mass actions against his traitorous, tyrannical, brutal and corrupt regime and the military and police can turn against him as they did against Marcos and Estrada,” said Mr. Sison in a statement. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

CoA questions Army on funds for soldiers who served in Marawi siege

THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has flagged the Philippine Army for P47.64 million worth of unused cash donations intended as financial assistance to 1,465 wounded-in-action (WIA) personnel during the Marawi siege in 2017. “Review of accounting records and other pertinent documents showed that the cash donations received by the Headquarters Philippine Army from GHQ (General Headquarters) and various private donors totaled P235,027,155.32. The status of these donations as of 31 December 2018 disclosed unutilized amount for WIA PA (Philippine Army) personnel of P47,643,153.00 or 20 percent of the total,” said the CoA report. Moreover, CoA noted that the Philippine Army exceeded by P9.98 million the financial assistance distributed to 118 killed-in-action beneficiaries. “Audit of the disbursement vouchers and documents supporting this utilization showed that the PA exceeded by P9,980,000.00 the financial assistance granted to 118 certified KIA beneficiaries,” said the state auditors. CoA recommended that the Army formulate specific guidelines for the receipt, utilization, and liquidation of the donated Marawi funds to justify the overpayment to KIA beneficiaries.—Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

CoA takes PCOO to task on P10M budget for federalism campaign

THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has called out the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) for its non-submission of monthly progress reports to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), particularly on projects relating to the federalism campaign. “The DILG was tasked as the lead agency to undertake a nationwide information campaign on federalism. On September 10, 2018, a total of P10,000,000.00 was transferred to the PCOO to be used for the development and production of multi-media materials covered by a MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) dated August 23, 2018,” said the report. However, no monthly reports were submitted by PCOO “to show the progress of work projects undertaken… The bulk of the activities should have been completed as early as first quarter-end of 2019 considering that the effectivity of the MOA will be until May 31, 2019,” said CoA. The DILG, in it’s comment in the report, said it already sent a letter to PCOO on January 16 requesting the submission of their monthly progress reports. The state auditors said another demand letter was sent by DILG to PCOO last April 30. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

Citizen’s Complaint Hotline 8888 to have TV version

MALACAÑANG announced on Wednesday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Citizen’s Complaint Hotline 8888 will have its own TV program to be dubbed as the “Digong 8888 Hotline” on PTV and its affiliate provincial stations every Thursday. In a phone message to BusinessWorld, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said he has “heard” that he will be hosting the program. In a statement he said: “As the government seeks to bring its services closer to Filipinos, the Palace is pleased to announce that a new TV program which focuses on the works of the Citizens’ Complaint Hotline 8888 and the Presidential Complaint Center (PCC) is set to be launched this month.” He added, “Dubbed as the ‘Digong 8888 Hotline,’ this one-hour program aims to bridge the gap between government agencies and the people through segments that will directly address the ordinary Filipino’s concerns on various government services.” The program, which will be aired from 2 to 3 p.m. every Thursday, will feature “one government agency per week and shall talk about their daily work from the lens of the viewers,” the President’s spokesman noted. — Arjay L. Balinbin