Raise urged in auditors’ legal fund
MANILA, Philippines—A party-list representative wants Congress to provide government auditors with a P50-million legal defense fund to help them battle harassment cases and other lawsuits they may face as they work to uncover corruption.
LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty said in a statement the Commission on Audit’s (COA) newly created legal assistance fund of P5 million should be increased to P50 million as the amount may be inadequate considering that reprisal lawsuits can be “nasty.”
The COA is tasked with scrutinizing the use of government funds and properties, and in the course of doing so, auditors tend to uncover irregularities. Recently, it found questionable transactions involving the use of lawmakers’ pork barrel, formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Ty said that providing additional funds to the COA’s legal assistance kitty would be good use of the people’s money.
“An initial appropriation of up to P50 million might be more realistic. It would be a wise investment of public funds anyway, with the promise of extremely high potential returns,” said Ty, a member of the House appropriations committee.
According to Ty, the amount could boost state auditors’ efforts in going after those who misuse the people’s money. He noted that harassment or reprisal lawsuits could take a long time to resolve, and could also affect retired auditors’ receipt of their gratuity and other retirement benefits.
“We have to build up the COA as an institution at the forefront of the fight for clean governance. If we add P50 million to their legal assistance fund, and in the process, we inspire our auditors to thwart say P10 billion worth of potential fraud, then we will have achieved an astounding return on investment,” he said.
Ty said in a separate text message that the additional amount for the legal fund could be included in the 2014 national budget, and sourced from legislators’ pork barrel.
The House of Representatives earlier said it intended to distribute the P25-billion lump sum pork barrel to various executive agencies for social services.
The COA’s legal assistance fund was created under a resolution approved last month.
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