Meticulous audit
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - November 7, 2014 - 12:00am

Ms. Sara Soliven De Guzman, in an opinion piece entitled “Kickbacks are what they live for,” published in your paper on Nov. 3, 2014, pointed to pre-audit as an internal check against corrupt practices in government transactions.

The Commission on Audit (COA) has thoroughly evaluated and studied the arguments for and against pre-audit prior to lifting it. Our study revealed that during the period that the Commission reinstated pre-audit from 2009 to 2011, only one percent or less of the 500,000 transactions pre-audited by COA was denied. This is a miniscule percentage compared to the volume of work hours that auditors put in pre-audit activities that could have been devoted to meticulous and regular audit work.

Likewise, when we were pre-auditing, COA was seen as “obstructionist” by adding to the bureaucratic line. COA conducted post-audit to facilitate and expedite the delivery of public service. Nevertheless, COA continues to pre-audit government agencies that have been assessed with weak internal control systems and on a risk-based approach. It is also important to note that Presidential Decree No. 1445 or the State Audit Code of the Philippines vests responsible fiscal management primarily with management.

We have not been sitting on our jobs. For calendar year 2013 alone, we conducted 27,856 audits with 15,648 Notices of Disallowances issued amounting to P26.12 billion; we reviewed 247,145 contracts worth P249.88 billion noting deficiencies amounting to P579.03 million; and we conducted cash examination on the accounts of 34,371 accountable officers finding a total shortage of P54.23 million where PI1.644 million were recovered; among other audit accomplishments.

Our audit findings have been the subject of various news reports, including findings on the Disbursement Acceleration Program from the regular audits of implementing agencies. Our COA officials and auditors are always called upon to testify as prosecution witnesses in the cases the Ombudsman files against alleged corrupt officials and are always invited as resource persons in various Senate and House investigations on misuse of public resources and they appear. These show that our officials are independent and are not afraid to raise red flags even against high ranking government officials.

COA is conscientious in performing its audit mandate. We have always strived to be meticulous in audit and to make doable recommendations for agencies to improve their operations.

To make a sweeping statement listing COA representatives as part of “protocol” of kickbacks is unfair. We would appreciate if Ms. De Guzman could inform us of any specific instance and identify COA personnel involved in corrupt or illegal acts so that we could conduct the proper investigation and file the appropriate administrative charges. Rest assured that the Commission is doing its best to police its own ranks and instill discipline and integrity in its workforce.

We are the guardians of public funds and we have even put our lives at risk as our commitment to fulfill our mandate. — Jonathan B. Beltran, Director, Public Information Office, Commission on Audit

 

AUDIT COA DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM JONATHAN B MS. DE GUZMAN MS. SARA SOLIVEN DE GUZMAN NOTICES OF DISALLOWANCES PRE PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
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