Lagman: Du30 has no authority over COA
By Mavic Conde
Albay Congressman Edcel Lagman said the the Commission on Audit (COA) has an independent government function, thus "President Rodrigo Duterte has no authority to stop the COA from performing its constitutional mandate of safeguarding the utilization of public funds and making public the results of its audit".
On Monday, Aug. 16, during his weekly taped briefing, Duterte told COA to stop flagging government transactions and publishing its reports as it would taint agencies with “corruption by perception”.
Lagman slammed Duterte’s statement. He said "The right of the people to information cannot be negated and quashed by invoking that officials should be shielded from “corruption by perception”.
He added that COA’s audit reports are thoroughly reviewed and documented. So, "when major government departments and agencies are found to have unspent and/or misspent their respective budgets, then it is COA’s obligation to disclose the sanctionable negligence to utilize public funds and the culpable misuse of the people’s money."
"Instead of immobilizing COA, Duterte must order the prosecution of the responsible officials of the agencies flagged by COA and accord them due process," Lagman said.
It's also important to note that COA has been releasing reports about its audit findings as part of its mandate. These are valuable information that is available to the public via its website. The public can also demand the Congress to use it as basis for budget allocation as part of their budget oversight function, especially if it will not be proactive in probing flagged agencies.