Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Overhauling of COA audit practices and procedures needed-Trillanes
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 23, 2011-Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV said that to cover up massive corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), there is a need for the overhauling of the audit rules and regulations to improve the practices and procedures in the Commission on Audit (COA), following revelations of an alleged conspiracy between state auditors and former high-ranking military officials.
Trillanes has filed Senate Resolution No. 390 to review by the finance committee in regards to the existing laws governing the practices and responsibilities of state auditors and come up with legislation to help COA to fulfill its constitutional mandate in connection with the ongoing investigation into the plea bargain agreement between prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, saying that the auditor and former COA commissioner are allegedly benefited from the wide-scale anomaly involving AFP funds conversion.
“The statement of former AFP budget officer Lt. Col. George Rabusa who manifested that former COA Commissioner Raul Flores and Divina Cabrera, then resident auditor with the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), allegedly received two (2%) percent of converted funds from erring officials in exchange for their cooperation,” Trillanes cited.
He said that it was also revealed in the senate blue ribbon committee investigation that Cabrera had allegedly sought the help of Rabusa to destroy documents showing how funds for personnel services (PS) or salary of the ISAFP personnel were spent for other purposes in fear that these might be discovered.
“I am concern over Cabrera’s own admission that she had knowledge of the practice of converting military funds but saw nothing irregular in the ISAFP book of accounts based on the documents that were submitted to her,” Trillanes said, explaining that Cabrera’s testimony was a clear violation of agency’s rules and regulations that she was resident auditor of the ISAFP for 13 years (1991-2005).
Trillanes furthered that COA’s resolution No. 87-6 set forth the limit of stay of auditor in a particular agency to a limit of three years only, saying that this is highly irregular and anomalous.
In 2009, 26 state auditors were either dismissed or suspended for administrative cases stemming from irregularities in the performance of duties, 37 auditors have pending cases with the COA chairman’s office while last year, 21 auditors were dismissed or suspended and 46 more have pending cases. Thus, the Senator reiterated that there is a need for a thorough study in auditing rules and regulations to strengthen the practices and procedures within COA and address the obvious gaps by crafting a new law.
The Senator said that the COA is mandated to manage, utilize and safeguard government resources from illegal or improper disposition to ensure efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the government operations. (Jason de Asis)
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