MANILA – The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Friday disputed reports claiming it has failed to comply with the Commission on Audit’s (COA) memorandum over supposedly unliquidated travel expenses worth PHP1.16 million.
In a statement, Solicitor General Jose Calida said his office has fully complied with liquidating cash advances on March 4 in response to COA’s audit observation memorandum (AOM) No. 2020-005 dated February 5.
“Rappler is distorting facts. As it had done numerous times before, Rappler failed to live up to the high standards expected from those in the journalism profession. This time, if they do not rectify the situation, there will be consequences,” Calida said, referring to the news website’s August 30, 2020 article titled “Once again, state auditors hit OSG travels for lack of documentation”.
Calida said Rappler failed to mention such a response of the OSG to the audit body’s memorandum.
He added that he had no official travel in 2019, and was not among those who were included in AOM No. 2020-005.
He added that the amount of PHP1.16 million was issued for the travel expenses of various OSG lawyers and administrative personnel who attended professional training programs in arbitration, library services, and archiving, and conducted recruitment activities in the provinces for the OSG’s Legal Internship Program for law students.
“These cash advances had already been fully documented and liquidated within the first quarter of 2020. Clearly, the OSG did not have any undocumented travels, whether foreign or local. Moreover, these travels were all official business of the lawyers and administrative staff of the OSG, not junket,” Calida said.
Last April 27, the OSG also turned over PHP82,893,000 from its 2020 budget to the Department of Budget and Management to help with the government’s response to the coronavirus disease pandemic.
“We have chosen to return the budget for most of our 2020 programs, activities, and projects to help the government fight this pandemic. We remain committed to supporting President Duterte’s whole-of-nation approach in mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic,” he added. (PNA)