The Commission on Audit
Admits its Inadequacy in Checking
By Apolinario Villalobos
Listening to the Commissioner of COA during the latest Senate hearing on the Philippine Science High School Building (November 18), makes one conclude that it is a useless agency of the government. Something is wrong with its mandated responsibilities. To a layman’s knowledge, an audit is supposed to be conducted to know if a certain project is in order or not. There is not even a complete transparency on how it operates. The COA is supposed to provide the check and balance, so that it is shocking to know that the agency has no capability to assume such role due to so many inadequacies, including the budgetary constraint. This helplessness of the agency gave corrupt agencies and local governments to skirt rules in funding projects, out of which they can derive scandalous commissions, as payments are based on their recommendation
The honesty of the COA Commissioner is commendable in admitting the agency’s handicaps so that the Senate can finally legislate rules to help it effectively operate. In other words, the agency has been wanting for support that was denied it. Instead of considering their latest proposed budget, for instance, it was drastically slashed. The additional budget that was disapproved was supposed to have been used for the needed logistics such as construction of offices so that its auditors shall no longer plead for a table space or cubicle in town or city halls, as well as, other government agencies where they serve as in-house auditors.
The Commissioner revealed that their system is not even hi-tech, and that they make use of boxes for their other files, thereby, endangering their confidentiality. She admitted that some important documents were lost because of their inadequate filing system, to which one Senator added, that because of lost documents some cases have been dismissed due to technicalities involving original documents.
The COA is supposed to be a formidable government agency tasked to assess if acquisitions and projects of the government are in order. The agency is an important check against graft and corruption. Unfortunately, its inadequacy has become a big loophole which dishonest officials and politicians have exploited to systematically rob the government coffer of people’s money.