Additional P1.3 billion budget for COA pushed
MANILA, Philippines — The budget of the Commission on Audit (COA) for 2021 should be increased by P1.3 billion, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez told the House of Representatives.
Under House Resolution No. 1275, Rodriguez said that the COA initially proposed a P13.574 billion budget for next year but was only P13.567 billion was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Rodriguez said that while the P13.567 billion DBM-approved budget for 2021 was still 3.55 percent higher than COA’s budget in 2020, the commission’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO) were “drastically decreased.”
The lawmaker said that COA’s MOOE was decreased from the commission’s initial proposal of P651.45 million to P573.42 million.
He added that the same was the case with the CO which had an even larger decrease from COA’s initial proposal of P683.49 million to P86.91 million.
Rodriguez pointed out that COA’s proposed increase in local travel and operational expenses for 48 provincial satellite auditing offices was not considered.
“These decreases will seriously hamper the operations of the Commission on Audit,” Rodriguez said in the resolution.
He added that a “huge portion” of COA’s 2020 budget was categorized as “For Later Release” due to the provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the National Budget Circular 580 which states that at least 10 percent of funds released for MOOE and CO would no longer be available for release to aid in the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the case of COA, Rodriguez said these appropriations include P50 million in MOOE and P123 million in CO for a total of P173 million.
“This categorization is unconstitutional because it is clear in the 1987 Constitution that, ‘Their ‘approved annual appropriations shall be automatically and regularly released’,” Rodriguez said.
“A law cannot contravene the provisions of the Constitution,” he added.
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