THE COMMISSION on Audit (COA) has flagged expenses made by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) which was used to pay for the pilgrimage of selected Muslims to Mecca last year.
COA said HUDCC spent about P5 million in funds intended for the rehabilitation program of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province. It said the fund transfer was “not among the authorized expenses” in the agreement signed between the Office of the President (OP) and the HUDCC. But HUDCC chairman Eduardo del Rosario said he appeal to COA not to disallow the transfer of P5 million worth of Marawi rehabilitation funds to pay for the 2018 Hajj pilgrimage.
In its audit report, COA said the HUDCC diverted the P5 million worth of Marawi rehabilitation funds to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
The amount was taken from the P500-million fund of the OP which it allocated to HUDCC for Marawi City rehabilitation projects. “We are writing an appeal to COA not to disallow this vital transaction, and besides, the P5 million was properly dispensed by NCMF,” Del Rosario said, insisting that the Hajj pilgrimage, which he described as part of the social healing process, is also part of the over-all rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
“Hajj is a solemn obligation and wish of every Muslim. It is so important to them that social healing is envisioned in the process,” he said, noting that a raffle was conducted to select internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were chosen to join the pilgrimage.
“We sponsored IDPs who were then living in the evacuation centers and transitional shelter,” he said, explaining that under the deal, the NCMF will facilitate the processing of travel documents, payment of airfares and billeting while the IDPs stay in Saudi Arabia for a month.
Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, which every adult Muslim must make at least once in his or her lifetime. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo warned that if the COA audit report is true, then HUDCC could face raps for technical malversation. (Azer Parrocha)
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