COA chief tells politicians not to fear auditsBy Cynthia D. Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Ma. Garcia Pulido-Tan has assured politicians who will run in next year’s midterm elections that she would not allow the agency to be used to persecute them or destroy their chances of winning in the elections.
In an interview, Tan allayed fears of some candidates in the local and national elections that a possible bad timing of the release of audit reports on them or their offices was personal.
“We will always be fair game because that’s the nature of our work,” Tan said. “Iyong timing, as I said, if somebody comes to us and then they report that will you look into this, of course we will do that. We can’t say, wait, you should not complaint because there is an election. That should not be the case,” she said.
Tan said the COA would always validate the complaint first and would only proceed if there was a basis.
Regarding Vice President Jejomar Binay’s earlier claim of political persecution by Heidi Mendoza, one of COA’s commissioners, Tan said the documents being cited in the media against Binay did not come from the COA.
Binay had described as “disturbing” the timing of the audit being initiated on the Makati Friendship Suites, a condotel run by the city government, on the basis of a letter sent by “concerned employees of Makati.”
He also said his office had been receiving reports of a demolition plan against him ad early as year, and that Mendoza herself was part of it.
Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesperson, said that Mendoza has been “very vocal about her dislike for the Vice President.”
But Tan noted that the letter-complaint was furnished to many people, including the media.
“I think we receive that complaint and we started looking at it as far back as April or May last year. And it was not until late this year that it came out in the paper because the press got a copy of the same letter but it did not come from us,” Tan said.
“So I think that should be assurance enough that we don’t want to be used one way or the other. For us it’s just a job and we will do our work prudently. If there is a leakage, definitely it did not come from us,” she stressed.
Tan said she was very particular about leakage from the office although she admitted that this could not be completely controlled.
She said there was still no audit report on the Friendship Suites because it was still ongoing.
For the election period, the COA chair has laid down instructions on three audit areas that must be monitored closely, namely ghost employees, fund transfer, and election spending from public money.