THE Commission on Audit’s (COAs) objectivity on its ongoing special audit on the releases made through the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is now in question after the agency admitted that it also received funds from the program.
Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan of the COA, during the plenary debates on the 2014 proposed general appropriations act (GAA) Monday night, admitted that the agency received a total of P143.7-million from DAP in 2012.
Tan, made the admission during the more than one-hour grilling of Senator Jinggoy Estrada on the COA budget.
“Your agency cannot be objective in its audit in the propriety and legality of the DAP when the agency itself is a recipient and beneficiary of the DAP even if there’s no irregularity in the disbursement,” Estrada told Tan.
But Tan pointed out it is the Supreme Court (SC) and not the COA that would determine the legality of DAP, what the agency is auditing is the utilization of the controversial acceleration program of the executive department.
During Estrada’s interrogation on Tan, the COA chair admitted that she was the one who wrote a letter to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) requesting funding for the upgrade of its computers and procurement of other needed service and equipment.
According to her when she arrived at the agency, she found out that the COA is behind in terms of equipment, particularly computers, which is crucial in carrying out their work efficiently.
“We found out the great backlog in the cases so we wanted to hire some consultants to help us. So i did request for that…” She added, noting that the request was made on 2011, when there is no DAP yet.
Apart from the computers and hiring consultants, the COA chair also admitted using DAP to procure service vehicles that can be used by the agency’s head and commissioners.
From the P143.7 million DAP, Tan said that P68.3 million went to information technology (IT) infrastructure program; P2.79 to close circuit television (CCTV) cameras; P4.6 million to consultants and P5.115 million to vehicles.
Tan said a balance of P63.545 million remained unspent and the agency plans to use it for the IT needs of the COA.
It was Estrada who unintentionally revealed the existence of the DAP in his privilege speech when he disclosed the senators who voted to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona received additional allotment.
The DBM initially denied Estrada’s claims, but later admitted that additional allotments were given to Senators under the DAP, but maintained that it has nothing to do with the Corona impeachment.
Sec. Florencio Abad of the DBM explained that DAP was designed by the budget department to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic growth.
But Estrada asked Tan if the she consider the procurement of COA vehicles for its commissioners can be qualified as a quick-moving project based on the explanation of the DBM.
“Sir i think the rationale for the DAP is precisely an issue in the SC so I would like to decline to comment on that,” Tan replied.
Aside from the being a recipient of DAP, Tan also admits hiring her daughter as her executive assistant, which according to Estrada could be a violation of COA’s own rules which prohibits the recruitment of relatives of the agency officials and personnel.
The COA chair however made it clear that there are exception the rule like of the position is confidential or co-terminus which is the exactly her daughter’s appointment as executive assistant.
She added that executive assistant positions are considered confidential and co-terminus and there are also a lot of them even in the Senate. Jefferson Antiporda