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CoA auditors cruise in vehicles provided by LGUs

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Officials of the Commission on Audit (CoA) in the province are raising eyebrows for riding around in service vehicles issued to them by local government units (LGUs) whose finances they are supposed to be auditing.

Two CoA auditors, lawyer Marciana Maniquiz and Amelia Barongan, were each given free use of a vehicle by the Alfonso Castañeda town government.

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Maniquiz, CoA supervising auditor for Nueva Vizcaya, has been driving around in a white Nissan X-Trail (license plate SJJ 393), while Barongan, resident auditor, has been using a white Nissan Frontier Navara (SJM 321).

A brown Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo (SKL 949) was recently issued by the provincial government to Florentina Sagabaen, audit team leader for Nueva Vizcaya.

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The vehicles from Alfonso Castañeda were reportedly part of allegedly anomalous purchases of about P24 million made by the town government last year without the required prior approval of the town’s annual budget by the provincial board.

Documents also showed the purchase of new vehicles was not part of the town government’s annual investment plan, in violation of the Local Government Code. A public bidding was also not conducted for the purchases.

But Maniquiz said she saw nothing wrong with using the vehicles, saying that this was allowed by the Auditing Code of the Philippines.

“Do you expect us to ride in tricycles to go around and inspect projects?” she asked the Inquirer.

Maniquiz said the vehicles allowed CoA auditors to better perform their duties and not have to borrow vehicles from time to time.

“This is standard practice all over the country. It is only in Nueva Vizcaya that this has become an issue,” Maniquiz said.

The Code of Ethics for Government Auditors requires that every auditor “shall endeavor to preserve and protect his independence” by “avoid(ing) situations or actions that would tend to weaken his impartiality and objectivity.”

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They are also directed to “refrain from all relations which would normally tend to arouse suspicion that such relation shall warp or bias [their] judgment or prevent [their] impartial attitude of mind in the administration of [their] duties as auditors.”

In December 2010, the CoA drew public criticism for accepting cash gifts of P30,000 each for the six auditors in the provincial government. Maniquiz ordered the money returned in early January.

In an earlier interview, Myrna Pasigian, wife of Mayor Jerry Pasigian of Alfonso Castañeda, defended the town’s issuance of vehicles to CoA auditors.

“The mayor deemed it necessary to provide vehicles for [the auditors] so they would come to Alfonso Castañeda for inspection, considering the remoteness of our town,” Pasigian said in Filipino.

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TAGS: auditor, Commission On Audit, Graft and Corruption, local government, Philippines
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