Duterte need not wait to become VP: COA flags own transactions in audit report

Published August 27, 2021, 3:31 PM

by Ben Rosario

“Who audits COA (Commission on Audit)?”

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In less than 24 hours after President Rodrigo Duterte publicly posed this question, the Commission on Audit released its 2020 Annual Audit Report that flagged several expenditure items that may not have been compliant to existing laws.

The 2020 AAR prepared by a team of auditors led by Director Pearl L. Ramos noted, among other adverse issues, that the procurement process on several infrastructure projects of the agency “was non-compliant with the provisions of Republic Act 9184” or the Government Procurement ACt.

The report also said there was “risk of possible loss of government resources in the amount of P3.380 million” in connection with the construction of the COA-CAR Regional Training Center and Dormitory Phase I costing P59.097 million.

The audit team said the project was not completed and later abandoned due to the “inability fo the contractor to continue with the project.” Aside from these observations, the audit team called COA’s attention in addressing 14 more findings other compliance and financial issues.

The audit report was transmitted by Ramos to Aguinaldo on June 9 with the advice that COA should submit actions taken on the audit findings within 60 days from the receipt of the transmittal letter.

During a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, Duterte publicly vowed to audit COA should he win the vice presidential race next year.

“Somebody should do it. I will do that if I become vice president. I will audit all of government,” he declared.

Duterte, a lawyer, aired the pronouncements a few days after he drew widespread criticisms for assailing COA for the adverse audit findings it revealed in AARs of various government agencies, including anti-COVID-19 frontliners Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Education.

Lawmakers and lawyers groups said Duterte does not have authority over COA because this is an agency created by the Constitution with the sole purpose of auditing government expenditures and financial transactions.l In its own audit findings, COA criticized its own management for improperly recognizing the cost of infrastructure projects as it noted that Repairs and Maintenance Expenses for Buildings and other Structures costing P24.809 million has been overstated by P13.896 million.

On the other hand construction in progress was understated by P9.62 million and buildings by P4.273 due to the non recognition by the central office that such infrastructure projects are “outright expenses instead of replacement costs.”

Audit examiners said the state audit agency had also deprived itself of income as a result of the delayed or non-preparation of billing statements for the cost of audit services it rendered to 34 water districts.

Unlike the DOH that was flagged for overstocking medicines, auditors found that COA had overstocked office supplies by P9.074 million.

“Failure of Management to implement the audit recommendations on procurement planning resulted in the continuous overstocking of office supplies amounting to P9.074 million as at December 31, 2020 and possible wastage of government resources through obsolescence,” the COA report stated.

Further, the audit team also noted that unliquidated cash advances for foreign and local travels has reached P12.38 million.

“Likewise, cash advances of P13.623 million were granted to ACcountable officers (AOs) despite non-liquidation/settlement of previous cash advances. Further, excess/balance of cash advances was not immediately refunded,” the audit report stated.

 
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