By Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK
THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency declared that it will comply fully with the requirements of the Commission on Audit as stated in its audit observation memorandum.
This developed after a recent CoA report was made public where it called the lack of transparency in some activities of the agency, a fact that was deemed “moot and academic” by the anti-illegal drugs organization. (Read more: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/07/14/coa-report-moot-and-academic-pdea/)
However, the PDEA, contrary to the CoA report, insists that it did not rent motorcycles but admitted hiring four-wheeled motor vehicles for intelligence operations such as surveillance and casing.
“There was never an instance when PDEA rented and used motorcycles for anti-drug operations,” said PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino.
In its report, CoA said the PDEA in 2017 paid PhP32.5 million to JET Trading for rent of motorcycles which were mostly used for intelligence and surveillance operations of the agency.
Nevertheless, Aquino clarified that the amount was not for the rental of motorcycles but for motor vehicles which was indeed used for the intelligence and surveillance operations.
“In the fight against illegal drugs, PDEA conducts extensive intelligence and surveillance operations with utmost secrecy in order not to compromise the identity of its agents. During these operations which lasted months or even years, PDEA rent motor vehicles so that drug syndicates will not be able to identify them as agency vehicles, compromise the operation, and put at risk the lives of operatives,” Aquino explained.
Furthermore, in its report dated March 19, 2018, the CoA stated that disbursement/expenses relating to the lease of motor vehicles for surveillance operations were charged against regular and trust funds to establish the validity of the expenses. It asked for documents as proof of payment for rental fees.
Aquino said disbursements/expenses relating to the lease of motor vehicles for surveillance operations were charged against regular and trust funds because those are the funds appropriated for the purpose.
Supporting documents required by COA, including the details of the transactions entered into by PDEA to the rental company covering specific area of operations, vehicle plate numbers, complete description of vehicles and other documents needed for review are all confidential in nature.
“PDEA will definitely comply with the COA requirements as the supporting documents required are in place and available. However, these documents must not be made public since there are still ongoing surveillance operations that might hamper or disrupt the same,” Aquino stressed.
On the issuance of firearms to PDEA agents not supported by Property Accountability Reports (PARs) as required by the Government Accounting Manual (GAM), Aquino said that the agency through the Logistics Management Service (LMS) is in the process of issuing PARs starting May 2018.
The firearms of PDEA are issued to operating units along with Acknowledgment Receipt of Equipment (ARE). The Property Acknowledgment Receipt (PAR) is the new form being used now for equipment.
In its Audit Observation Memorandum dated March 15, 2018, COA stated that out of the 1,403 issued firearms, 898, or 64 percent, were not supported with PARs, pointing out that accountability may not be properly addressed.
“All PDEA firearms have their corresponding ARE prior to issuance. The delay in updating the PARs was due to the transition of the required form from ARE to PAR and the ongoing procurement of additional equipment and firepower,” according to Aquino. The LMS is closely monitoring the inventory of all issued firearms in all PDEA regional offices.
“PDEA is regularly conducting audit and inventory of all its properties in the regional offices across the country, so we are assuring the public that all firearms are intact,” Aquino said.