COA credibility under a cloud

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THE inclusion of some state auditors in the newest graft case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the alleged abuse of pork barrel funds bolstered suspicions that the questionable release of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) would not have happened without the collusion of Commission on Audit (COA) officials, a Palace official said on Friday.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said they were well aware that even COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan had ordered an internal inquiry on the possible involvement of some COA auditors in the PDAF scam.

“From what I understand, given the past pronouncements of the COA chair herself, the COA is self-aware and that they have also started looking into the possibility that some auditors or resident auditors may be part of the crimes that have happened,” Valte said.

Asked if a “house cleansing” is needed at COA, Valte replied: “As far as her [Tan] public pronouncements have been concerned, it would be… At least, that is our understanding.”


Ordering COA to police its ranks “would be misplaced at this point, given that the Commission on Audit is an independent commission,” she added.

DAP too
This is not the first time the state auditing agency was embroiled in the very same controversy it helped unearthed. Earlier this week, Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada accused COA of receiving some P143 million through the equally controversial Disbursement  Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Budget department.

“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 during a recent budget hearing.

Tan admitted that she wrote a letter to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) requesting funding to upgrade COA computers and the purchase of other equipment and services, and that part of the money was used to buy service vehicles for COA officials.

Of the P143.7 million DAP released to COA, Tan said that P68.3 million was used for the agency’s information technology (IT) infrastructure program, P2.79 went to the purchase of close-circuit television cameras, P4.6 million was paid to consultants and P5.115 million went to the purchase of vehicles.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the budget used to procure COA equipment came from the agency’s own savings.

“If you look at the past GAAs [General Appropriation Act], there are some provisions that may require some submissions to DBM by way of ‘do you have the available funds?’… it’s not just budget, it’s also management,” Valte said.

“Secretary Abad has also clarified that when it came to the matter of the computers that were funded—not by DAP, because DAP is not a fund, it’s merely an acceleration program—it was sourced from the E-government… The digitization fund that is managed also by the Executive,” she said.

Lost credibility
However, opposition senators on Friday said COA did not only lose its credibility in probing the DAP but also its image as a non-partisan protector of public funds.

Senate deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said the recent disclosure about COA being a beneficiary of the controversial disbursement program could put its objectivity under suspicion. Unless there is an independent private body that would watch the state auditors, suspicion will always be there, he added.

“That has long been the question since the time of Julius Caesar—who guards the guardians? I suggest that government should secure the services of a private an independent group to audit COA,” Sotto said.

Estrada said it would be better if COA would distance itself from the DAP investigation and let an independent body probe the DAP releases.

Estrada suggested forming an independent body composed of respected personalities from the academe and mass media.

The constitutionality of the DAP has been questioned before the Supreme Court, with critics saying the DAP is an illegal disbursement by the government since it was made outside the enacted appropriations law.

Senators and congressmen themselves have admitted they never knew DAP existed and were made to believe that the additional allocations they have received after the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona were from the PDAF.

Independent budget
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) noted that unless the allocations for COA and Office of the Ombudsman were removed from Congress and the Office of the President, the agencies’ impartiality would always be questioned.

Dante Jimenez, VACC chairman, said the only way for the COA and Ombudsman to regain their impartiality is to have their respective budget out of the reach of the Legislative and the Executive departments.

Jimenez said lawmakers can always use their authority to get back at COA and the Office of the Ombudsman.

“COA should be given a fixed budget which is not under the control of Congress, in that way lawmakers cannot use their powers over the agency,” he said.

Jimenez noted that to ensure that Malacanang is not be able to use its resources to control COA, the Supreme Court should declare the DAP unconstitutional.

“As long as Malacanang has DAP and Congress has a say on the budget of COA, its credibility as a nonpolitical agency will remain questionable,” Jimenez said.

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12 Comments

  1. Simon Benigno Arroyo on

    This is the problem when government is given to much power and becomes the biggest employer. This wont happen in America, Canada, Australia and Europe…
    There should be balance between public and private entities.

  2. Jessie Serrano on

    Meron tayong matandang kasabihan … ” ang magnanakaw ay galit sa kapwa magnanakaw,,” kaya ang ating mga politiko ay nagpapatayan kahit hindi panahon ng eleksyon, kasuhan ng kasuhan, demandahan ng demandahan sila sila rin naman kaya walang pag asenso ang ating bayan. Solution po dyan.. Isang termino para sa lahat.

  3. Looking at the whole picture of PDAF / DAF Funds, more and more it is coming clearly that it is being used as a big influencial power of control in the philippine politics, this is the hidden secrets that is now being uncovered. This is system is not new, its been the standard system in the philippines that evolved into vote buying and political parties tools to control our system of government and the source of the corrupted politicians for greater wealth ……..Democracy supposed to be..a system …..For the people and by the people…and specially help those unfortunate citizens.

    The balance of justice no longer applies in the philippine democracy as it is now being corrupt by its own wealth….Good and honest leaders are now very hard to find in the philippines, the people lost its trust on the philippine goverment. The president Benigno Aquino Jr, may not be a thief but the people lost their trust on them. Bring back the peoples trust my dear fellow filipinos. Punished the corrupt , the thiefs ,the one that doesnt care about the poor and the well being of the country. Set an example for others so they know that the bad apples can not thrive…Let the people be the auditor of this funds take it away from all politicians . The people are aware now of how and where they are getting their power and influence……IT FROM the peoples own wealth..IF its true that DEMOCRACY is still the system of this country, let the balance of justice prevails …abolished DAP / PDAF and report to the people every year where the money will go and where was it spent…..and to the people of the Philippines
    ….removed those politician who do not report to you where your money is spent..

    PHILIPPINES for the people and by the people…THE TRUE DEMOCRACY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT…

  4. It is impossible to not have someone go astray. It is a matter of checks and balances to reveal those who go astray and to have severe enough penalties to deter all from cheating. COA has done a credible job in revealing the fraud, now lets see if the legal system will quickly give proper and just punishment. The facts must be the determining factor, not the personality.

  5. In the place where I grew up,there’s no development. Projects completed are only in the papers.its the same as it was 25 years ago….you know why? COA gets paid a fraction of the budget for development projects without really implementation…when the budget comes in, dirty politicians withdraw the money in sack loads way back then and do what ever they want with it, they gamble,buy vehicles and guns, put up houses, go on vacation and etc as if the money belongs to them…its still happening now…there’s no development, if any, only about less than 10% in 25 years time…nobody goes to prison for corruption because come election time local politicians bring in the votes….that’s how it is…

  6. tama dapat martial law or another EDSA at lipulin ang mga magnanakaw unang una ang mga marcoses, estrada lahat sila kahit followers ni Pnoy.

  7. Alangan namang alam niya ang nakawan, at pinapayagang makalusot,,,

    …. na WALA SIYANG SHARE…..perhaps later, asin the Corona incentives….

    5 months after the event daw…

    IMPOSIBLEm just as it is IMPOSSIBLE na puro opposition lang ang “corrupt” at lahat ng LP ay saints….?

    Where are the coup plotters when you need them…hahaha

  8. Ngayon lang nahabla ang mga COA Auditors, ibig sabihin ginawa nila ang anomalya noong 2007-2009. Hindi kaya ginagawa pa rin nila ang anomalya mula 2010 hanggang 2013. Di naman natigil ang ang PDAF disbursements noong 2009.

  9. Roldan Guerrero on

    The COA is a main accessory in the pursuit of BSAs illegal activities. It is impossible that he knows nothing of what is going on. Proofs are now uprooted that he almost bribed all key positions using PDAF and DAP. This may not be his time now as their ineffective propaganda machine could no longer cheat the Filipino People! But sooner or later he will surely land in jail.

  10. I am sorry to say, that majority of the Filipinos think that corruption runs amok in the country. It appears that most people believe that this prevailing culture, defines the whole country, which will impact in the way people do business with each other or with other country, many think we can not be trusted. These attitude were apparent by countries helping us in the recent calamities that they want to be sure that their aid reaches the place and people that needed them. It is very sad feeling that the people around the world feels this way about us. I know and firmly believe that there are a lot of Filipinos, who are honest, hardworking, and trustworthy. How can we reverse this perception and behavior? by hard work and prayer, cheating thievery, and corruption is a form of addiction to get ahead and abundance of easy money to steal. May God have mercy on the souls of these corrupt people, we seek God’s guidance for the country’s leadership to change their heart and mind to model for the next generation worthy of emulation.

  11. Who else (government agencies) is not suspected of connivance with the DAP/PDAF?

    If the Supreme Court will declare the DAP also unconstitutional – then and only then, all
    these agencies will be awaken that what they are doing are not only corrupt but immoral.

    If only we have a credible/incorruptible/may delecadesa President – all these could not happen.

    If you want to pull a nail – do it on the head of the nail.
    If you want to capture a snake – do it on the head, not the tail.

    It is incredible to believe that the President has no clue on what is happening.
    The President said – he is not a thief but all those around him are allegedly thief.
    Hindi ba niya naamoy? Wala bang nagsusumbong sa kanya?.

    The fact is – he knows it but still allowing it to happen – a great pretender and
    use it as a weapon to silence them from shouting. What a Martial Law?

    It is not enough that you are not a thief – all around you are thief?
    Is that ‘daang matuwid’?