July 14, 2024

Recent findings of the Commission on Audit on the utilization of government funds for infrastructure and soft projects such as livelihood programs have flagged down several local government units in the Cordillera. This could be a reality check for good governance.
Among the audit findings involving LGUs in the Cordillera were wrong procedures in realignment of funds, incomplete or unimplemented infrastructure projects, expensive out-of-town meetings, and multi-million livelihood funds not used for its intended purposes, among others.
The COA findings should serve as a reality check for LGUs, government agencies, and elected officials, especially those that are supposedly advocating for good governance, accountability, and transparency.
While concerned LGUs, agencies, and government officials called out by the COA findings claim otherwise, saying it’s all about negative publicity, there was nothing personal in such findings, as the audit agency was simply performing its mandate as one of the State’s watchdogs over government spending and ensuring accountability in the use of public funds.
But reports have it that some LGUs, agencies, and officials are not heeding the recommendations in the audit findings, using as defense that a former president had publicly announced in 2021 that he had asked State auditors to stop publishing their initial findings that flagged down departments and officials and created impressions that they were corrupt.
This, as the former president claimed that nothing happened following the release of the audit findings.
Such a statement should serve as a challenge to the audit agency to strengthen its follow-up mechanism to ensure that audit recommendations are followed by LGUs, agencies, and officials in order to promote a culture of transparency and accountability in the utilization of public funds.
It has been proven, however, that audit findings and recommendations have improved governance in many agencies and offices, as COA has been instituting programs to promote responsible financial management, accountability, and responsibility over the years.
And contrary to some public notions, the audit agency remains a partner in the pursuit of good governance, as it continues to ensure that progress is achieved with integrity, accountability, and maximum benefit to the public.
Likewise, instead of treating the audit process as an adversarial exercise, concerned stakeholders must put their acts together in identifying solutions to the issues raised in the reports. This means that establishing platforms for dialogue and joint problem-solving will foster a culture of cooperation and ultimately result in more effective remedies for identified shortcomings.
After all, transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of good governance in a democratic society.