The Palawan provincial government categorically and strongly denied Friday the malicious and unfounded allegation made by the Save Palawan Movement (SPM) on the “evident mismanagement” of P120 million paid by Sunlight Ecotourism Resort in Culion in return for the dismissal of an environmental lawsuit brought against the business.
Governor Jose Alvarez claimed in a statement to Palawan News on July 16 that the funds were handled properly and that not a single centavo was stolen.
“We categorically deny the said allegation as there was no mismanagement committed in the handling of the said funds. In fact, the whole amount is still very much intact and not a single centavo has been spent because it is only the PCSD (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development) that can spend it,” Governor Alvarez said in the statement.
The amount is deposited in the Trust Account of the Provincial Government of Palawan (PGP) based on the compromise agreement signed by the PGP, the PCSD, and Sunlight Ecotourism Resort, according to his statement.
As stipulated in the court-approved compromise agreement, the PGP’s obligations are restricted to collecting the agreed sum and maintaining a trust fund. It is the PCSD that will utilize the same in accordance with its legal mandate for the restoration and rehabilitation of the environment as well as for monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws, the statement added.
Gov. Alvarez also assured that the amount would be used for environmental rehabilitation.
To avoid further misinformation, the Provincial Legal Office (PLO) has relayed that the Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) from which SPM based its allegation of “evident mismanagement”, simply states that there was only an error in the recording of the collected amount.
Instead of “Trust Liabilities,” it was classified as “Guaranty Deposits Payable.” The said AOM made no mention of loss or misuse of the money, said the statement. It added that a court-approved Compromise Agreement underpins the PGP’s act of establishing and managing a trust fund for Sunlight Ecotourism Resort’s payments, making it entirely lawful.
It said the funds are intact, and SPM has all the opportunity to check with the Provincial Treasurer’s Office prior to making such baseless accusations.