Binay seeks to stop misuse of Duty Free funds amid Teo controversy

MANILA, Philippines – As former tourism secretary Wanda Teo is accused of illegally using millions of Duty Free tourism funds, Senator Nancy Binay urged the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) to strengthen accountability measures.

"In light of the 2017 COA findings, the Governance Commission for GOCCs must carry out its oversight functions over GOCCs, particularly those that have adverse audit findings. With professionals at the helm of GOCCs, let's elevate corporate governance and good housekeeping to global best practices," Binay said on Sunday, July 1. (READ: COA: Teo illegally used Duty Free tourism funds to buy bags, cosmetics)

Duty Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC) is a GOCC.

Binay also said the GCG should "take seriously" its job to coordinate policies of GOCCs, as COA's findings showed lapses in the operations of Duty Free.

"Apparently, merong pagkukulang at may operational lapses kung bakit may ganitong uncontrolled withdrawals sa Duty Free gamit lang ang gate pass slips (Apparently, there are gaps and operational lapses which is why there are uncontrolled withdrawals from Duty Free using only gate pass slips)," she said.

She added, "The GCG and DFPC should make proactive steps to address COA's findings and to prevent any repeat of similar irregular practice in the future." 

Senate inquiry

Binay also said the Senate committee on tourism will invite Teo and former tourism officials to find out why such spending was done at the Department of Tourism (DOT), and if there was any misuse of public funds.

Meanwhile, Binay called on Duty Free to implement the necessary actions recommended by COA before a Senate inquiry is scheduled.

COA recommended Duty Free should bill DOT for the expenses and "stop the practice of directly charging from DOT's share in Duty Free's net profits."

COA earlier said resigned tourism secretary Wanda Teo spent P4.143 million to buy merchandise at Duty Free, pay for a consultant for Duty Free, and ship Duty Free goods all using the profit share of the Department of Tourism. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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