Revive COA audit of Malacañang, Congress

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

Emeterio Sd. Perez

WHY is Malacañang’s temporary chief occupant, otherwise officially known as Office of the President, exempted from audit by the Commission on Audit? After all he, along with his appointees, is being paid with taxpayers’ money that government auditors are mandated to protect.

Likewise, there should be an explanation as to why COA no longer audits the Senators and the members of the House of Representatives. For the reason that the Senate and the House make up Congress, it is more imperative now for COA to audit their members because some of them have turned it into a subsidiary of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Our supposed lawmakers now seldom make laws or have forgotten why they are members of Congress. Instead, they investigate. Don’t their expenses and compensation also come from the people?

There must be a good but justifiable reason why all these elected top officials and continue to enjoy exemptions from audit. As public auditors, COA officials lead a Constitutional office that is an independent and apolitical body. They may be underpaid but this should not deter them from carrying out their responsibility of reporting government expenses to the people. (COA chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan received P2,438,918 as her compensation in 2013. She joined COA in 2011 and left in February 2015 after serving the unexpired term of Chairman Reynaldo A. Villar and proving her independence as COA chief.)


Full disclosure
If you are an avid watcher of government, you would be interested to know how much of the taxpayers’ money end up as salaries and pays and perks paid to public officials, starting with the president at the top. You would feel short-changed should any ment offices fail to make public their officials’ annual remuneration for all the years they have been in office.

Of course, you would be surprised, let alone angered, if you found some government offices were left unaudited. COA is supposed to be only official agency the Filipino people can depend on for transparency in the government via full disclosure of officials’ expenses.

Unluckily, Filipinos have no way of checking how their money is being spent because COA’s website shows nothing on the salaries and expenses of Malacanang’s temporary chief occupant and of Congress. If there is a law that exempts the President and our lawmakers from audit, then it should be made public. In short, COA should be responsible for educating us on the existence of such law and how it came into being.

As far as the taxpayers among us are concerned, they are being unjustly deprived of knowing where the government is spending the people’s money. The non-transparency of their expenses unnecessarily exposes them to perceptions of corruption if it does not make them easily susceptible to it.

What I know is that COA used to report the compensation for the ENTIRE government. That word in all caps should tell us no single government agency or official was exempted from COA audit. Why would any of them be granted special treatment such as an exemption from audit? Unless, of course, he or she has something to hide.

Audit revival
Is there hope for the revival of the COA audit of ALL government agencies and their officials? As for hope, perhaps there is none. After all, the senators and district representatives know fully well what’s best for them when it comes to sourcing their families’ financial requirements.

Incidentally, COA has yet to complete auditing the salaries of government officials for 2014. As of yesterday, it has on its website only the pays and perks “received by principal officials and members of the governing boards of government-owned and controlled corporations and their subsidiaries” in 2013 and in previous years.

As far as we know, the completion of COA’s audit of government compensation depends on the availability of data provided by government agencies. Hopefully, the delay this time would mean ALL government agencies, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), would submit the detailed salaries and pays and perks that they paid their respective officials and executives in 2014.

Last year, COA almost hit 100 percent of its target when it “received reports from 966 government agencies/instrumentalities representing 99.38 percent of the 972 expected reports.” What did the six agencies that failed to submit their reports have to hide from COA?

I am making this update on COA’s audit of government officials’ compensation in response to a request from a reader of The Manila Times, who read Due Diligencer’s piece on UBP’s P1.7-million compensation. Adopting “Hi” for an alias, she/he wrote:

“I’d just like to suggest that maybe you’d want to write about GOCCs as well, since their impact on the economy is more pervasive and the funds they disburse involve government subsidies – subsidies which are acquired from the taxpayers.”

Perhaps, Hi is interested to know if government officials could really afford living the lifestyle of the rich and famous that some of them display in public, with the kind of salaries and perks they receive in government compensation. The public would sure want to know these things and would respect COA more if it would regain its audit function over the expenses of the President and members of Congress. Yes, Hi and I would love to see how their lifestyle would pass COA audit.

esdperez@gmail.com.

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9 Comments

  1. Ang problema kasi dyaan ay eto.. Tayong mga pilipino ay walang utak mga gago walang prinsipyo,at higit sa lahat mga mukhang salapi{lalong lalu na mga politiko}

  2. Manny De Guzman on

    Ang motto ng adminstrasyong gongong ay magpasasa ka sa pagbulsa at pagkamkam ng pera ng bayan. Libre ito walang audit dahil panig o takot sa atin ang CO-HA. Kaya hakot ng hakot ng pera. Party doon party dito. Hindi alintana kong anong sabihin ng taon bayan dahil mga MANHID na at hindi na tinatalaban ng HIYA. Maginoo daw sila pero puro hangin at bulok ang utak. May batas ang pinas pero hindi buo kundi BUTAS.Iba ang batas sa mahihirap at iba sa kanila. Itong tongress kailangan buagin na ito. Inutil sa dilang inutil. Pero pera na lang ang nasa isip.

  3. Wow! No wonder they would kill each other just to win an election.once seated, they live the real Philippine dream, like royalties.

  4. “The basic monthly salary of a senator is P90,000. But if you add all other legitimate sources of income such as allowances and
    honoraria, the total monthly income of a senator could be placed at some P1.4 million,” miriam santiago

    That is 70 times the average salary, making filipino politicians one of the highest paid in the world – and that is before kickbacks etc.

    The average salary in UK is £27,500, × 70 = £2 million a year! Imagine what voters would say/do in such a situation. (UK MP’s get £67,000 plus legitimate audited expenses). Circa 3 times national wage, which is in line with other countries.

  5. Sir BUSY lang kasi ang COA.
    Busy digging up DIRT on the Opposition..
    Election Fever na eh.

  6. Loren legarda and her new yoork condo which she didn’t declare in SALN – and how could she afford that as a second home.

    Nothing was pursued. Dual standards and hypocricy from legarda and pnoy aquino administration. Legarda needs auditing.

    Not to mention lito lapid and his houses fleet of cars money laundering etc.

  7. In the uk they also get allowances but nothing like what they get here. Its also out in the open in the uk. I know here expenses that should only be paid if first paid by the person getting the expenxes, but it doesnt work like that. They claim them weather or not they acually spent the money in the first place. & i agree with hector ( he wrote a reply ) why are these politicians so cosseted. Its obscene seeing every senator surrounded by people throwing palms before their feet as they walk. It has to be stopped.

  8. You are 100% spot on. All officials should be audited no matter who they are. All pay, incentives, bonus’s & any form of payment made to tham by any differnt name should be disclosed to us all. I remember seeing cj coronas total income & i was gob smacked. If i remember right he had about 5 xmas bonus’s & paymens on top of his salary. He had a P20,000 per year rice allowance. He had a hardship allowance, my god what is that all about. Look at a refuse collector, a dirty smelly filthy & down right horrible job & his renumeration probably P350 per day. Where is his yearly rice allowance, his hardship allowance.
    In the french revolution the aristocracy had their heads lopped off. It seems here some of that medicine needs to be dispensed as this sickness is killing the poor.

  9. Just as an example
    Congresswoman Abad in 2013
    4.2 million pesos salary, plus
    14.8 million office expenses, plus
    special project funds, DAP, pork barrel etc.

    Senators have up to 60 staff each.
    Who are they – what do they do all day
    Do they employ family members
    Ghost consultants

    Senators are constantly travelling abroad on 1st class tickets – who, why, how often. Bam Aquino no doubt currently tops the list, and loren legarda.

    Senators get free medical coverage in US – why?

    Multiple houses and cars, childrens education abroad, etc would suggest a pre-tax annual income of 20- 25 million a year.

    No wonder no audits or FoI.
    ‘Legalised theft’