WHEN AN AGENCY THAT FLAGS OFFICES IS FLOGGED IN PUBLIC
The red flags raised by the Commission on Audit on the budget utilization of various agencies in its 2020 audit report is not something new, but the ire that the commission received from the President has brought to light the importance of transparency and the call for accountability in all of the government sectors.
In its 2020 audit reports, COA noted several deficiencies in the spending and under utilization of funds of around 20 national government agencies.
What stood out is that of Department of Health’s P67.32 billion worth of deficiencies by the end of 2020. These public funds were intended as the national government’s response in combating the unprecedented scale of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among the deficiencies noted were the P3.97B used in undocumented projects and “doubtful” transactions, P557.7 million used in “excessive and unnecessary expenditures”, and P5B purchases without documenting the procurement.
The greater majority of Filipinos wonder why the President came in the defense of DOH stating the agency has no deficiencies only that it lacked the necessary documents to back up its report. Instead of reprimanding these concerned agencies, the President has reminded COA that flagging these agencies of their deficiencies and making the report public create a perception that there is corruption.
Such procedure, which COA has been doing even in the past administrations, should not have been taken personally by the President who flogged the commission and blamed it when the concerned agencies were flogged publicly due to the audit reports.
We laud COA for clarifying that the audit report itself does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost due to corruption. In the case of DOH, it claimed that the report wants the agency to correct its report with supporting documents to justify the use of the P67.3B funds.
We are saddened that COA, which is simply carrying out its mandate, is now being flogged publicly.
Let’s remind Malacañang that each government agency such as COA is given a Constitutional mandate of its own and has the autonomy to perform its duty towards ensuring transparency and accountability in the utilization of public funds.
Simply put, the COA report bears no malice and it is actually based on the submitted documents of concerned agencies such as the DOH.
Looking at COA’s mission, it states the commission seeks to ensure accountability for public resources, promote transparency, and help improve government operations, in partnership with stakeholders, for the benefit of the Filipino people.
More importantly, COA, as what the Integrated Bar of the Philippines said, is given the exclusive authority to adopt rules, techniques, and methods for the “prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures.”
With less than a year in power, the President remains in his usual conduct of lambasting fellow public servants and agencies to make them behave the way he wanted them to.
Let the Senate investigation take its full course as the truth would eventually come out if the agencies flagged by COA have indeed used public funds sans irregularities.
Despite the verbal flogging by the President, COA must continue making these “accountability” reports and shouldn’t be barred from making them public.
We share the call for Filipinos to rally behind COA in its pursuit for transparency and accountability on where the country’s resources are being spent or not being spent by those who were given the mandate run this country.