“Whatever ‘taint’ or ‘perception’ of corruption that arises from a COA (Commission on Audit) report is not the fault of the auditors who are simply doing their sworn function,” the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said on Wednesday, Aug. 18.
The IBP was referring to the COA report that flagged the Department of Health (DOH) over “deficiencies” in the use of P67.3-billion in funds for the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
IBP President Burt M. Estrada, in a statement, reacted to President Duterte’s statement which criticized the COA for the report it issued after its audit of DOH’s COVID funds.
“We submit that rather than to criticize the COA and its auditors, the Department of Health should instead cooperate with them and explain the ‘deficiencies’ and submit documentation or supporting papers to explain its side,” Estrada said.
He pointed out that the COA report “by itself bears no malice and is actually based on the government’s own records, or the lack of it.”
Public auditors, he said, are “key elements in good governance and fulfill an invaluable public service — informing the people how their money was spent.”
“The COA’s function is to track their use, and determine whether it was utilized in an ‘unnecessary’ or ‘extravagant’ manner,” he stressed.
Under the Constitution, the COA has the duty to “examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of (public) funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities,” he said.
He also pointed out that the Constitution gives the COA “EXCLUSIVE authority to adopt rules, techniques and methods for the ‘prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures.’”
“When the COA issues a report, it fulfills its constitutional duty, nothing more,” Estrada explained.
“The most important component of government, especially during a pandemic, is its funds and resources,” he added.