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COA: From PDAF to toilet rolls

THE Commission on Audit (CoA) is probably the least popular government agency among government administrators but it certainly rates highly in the public view because of its reports exposing irregularities in the use of government funds.

In a report early this month, the CoA came up with the finding that the Senate of the Congress of the Philippines had overstocked its supplies in the amount of P3 million, including – of all things – toilet paper. The excess stocks of wiping paper were not much – only about P37,000 for 3,272 rolls – but the report so captured the imagination of the public, inspiring such comments on social media that the many rolls were needed because of too much crap in the chamber.

The CoA has come out with much bigger irregularities involving much greater amounts. During the previous Aquino administration, it called for an investigation of a P295-million improvement program for toilet facilities of the various offices of the Department of Transportation.

Six months into the new Duterte administration, the CoA asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to explain unliquidated funds of P7.65 billion as of December, 2016, for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. The DSWD later reported to CoA that it was able to reduce the unliquidated amount to P4 billion by last March.

Possibly the biggest expose by the CoA in recent years was in 2007-2009 when it investigated the involvement of so many congressmen and senators in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam in an operation involving bogus Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) identified with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Three opposition solons got detained and several other cases are in various stages of investigation. The CoA said the cases filed so far involve only eight NGOs identified with Napoles, but there are 74 other NGOs which were used as conduits for the diversion of PDAF funds to other legislators, this time including many allies of the previous administration, the CoA said.

Thus from PDAF to toilet rolls, the CoA has found and reported irregularities in the use of government resources. We commend the officials and the many workers in the CoA who tirelessly look into the operations of our government, bereft of political considerations, concerned only with ensuring the proper use of the nation’s funds.