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Probing corruption not part of COA’s mandate — chair

/ 09:54 PM September 17, 2021
It is not the mandate of COA to investigate possible corruption in government agencies, its chairman said Friday.

COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — It is not the mandate of the Commission on Audit (COA) to investigate possible corruption in government agencies, its chairman said Friday, adding that institutions like the Senate are free to conduct their probe based on audit reports when necessary.

“Ang mandato po ng Commission on Audit ay hindi naman to probe corruption. Ang mandato po namin is primarily to examine, audit, and settle accounts,” COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo said during the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, which is investigating the government’s pandemic purchases.

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(The mandate of the Commission on Audit does not include probing corruption. Our mandate is primarily to examine, audit, and settle accounts.)

“Kung may makita po kaming corruption, ire-refer po namin ‘yan sa proper body. Normally po, sa Ombudsman namin nire-refer ‘yun, kung may makita ‘yung mga auditor namin na indication of fraud or corruption, ire-refer po ‘yan,” he added.

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(If we see corruption, we refer it to the proper body. Normally, we refer it to the Ombudsman, if our auditor sees an indication of fraud or corruption, we refer it.)

This was Aguinaldo’s answer when asked by Senator Bong Go regarding COA’s process in spotting corruption or anomalies in the spending of government agencies.

In posing his questions during the hearing, Go asked Aguinaldo twice to repeat his earlier clarification that COA’s report made no mention of overpricing in the purchases made by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management(PS-DBM) in 2020.

While overpricing or corruption was not flagged in COA’s 2020 report, Aguinaldo said the audit process is an ongoing task.

“Hindi naman natatapos ‘yan paglabas ng report. Tuluy-tuloy pa rin ‘yan. So kung may makita sila, ilalabas po ‘yan,” he said.

(It does not stop with the release of the report. It’s ongoing. So if our auditors see anything, we will release it.)

“Pero doon sa mga nakasaad sa report, kung may makakita ng tingin nilang pwedeng imbestigahan, whether the Senate o Ombudsman, or ano pwede po naman,” he added.

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(But on the findings of the report, if there are findings that can be investigated, whether by the Senate or the Ombudsman, or other institutions, they can do that.)

The Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation was triggered by COA’s 2020 report, which flagged “discrepancies” in the Department of Health’s (DOH) handling of pandemic response funds worth over P67 billion.

COA, in its report, noted that the DOH’s transfer of P42 billion to the PS-DBM was made without the required memorandum of agreement.

This led senators to dig deeper, finding out that the DBM-PS had awarded contracts to Pharmally, which they believed did not have enough financial capacity to fulfill the government’s orders.

With the developments in the Senate’s probe, Aguinaldo earlier said COA will look into Pharmally’s supply contracts with the government.

The Senate blue ribbon committee, which has so far conducted several hearings, will resume its investigation next week.

JPV

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