Credibility needs polishing


The Commission on Audit (CoA) needs to remove the kinks in its credibility created by the selective audit of the 2007 to 2009 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that mostly focused on yellow political opponents while skipping top guns of the Liberal Party (LP).

The original announcement of the data posed questions regarding CoA allowing itself to be used as a political tool during the term of Noynoy primarily, since the release of the report did not follow accepted audit procedures.

The audit report on the PDAF of senators from 2007 to 2009 was focused on personalities who were considered threats to the LP during the 2016 presidential elections.

It was released in 2013 right after the midterm elections when the yellow candidates under the so-called Team PNoy fared poorly.

Those who toed the line of Noynoy and his “Daang Matuwid” got an instant clean bill of health. Noynoy and LP president Mar Roxas were exempted from the audit; they were senators during the audit period in question.

The special report itself contained comments from auditors saying the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was not entirely cooperative in the release of CoA requested data, a fact which the agency used as a waiver on the result of the said document.

During that time, it was initially made to appear that it was former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. who withheld the data that CoA requested. However, it was CoA auditors who did the investigation for the report on the first three years of Noynoy’s term when the agency was under Butch Abad, the LP strategist.

Andaya said the PDAF releases during his stint at the DBM were always fully documented and in accordance with the General Appropriations Act, adding CoA would have been able to acquire explanations from the former heads of implementing agencies had it made effort in seeking these.

Senators included in the report said proper audit procedures, including an embargo period, for the data to be cross-checked were not observed in the release of the CoA assessment of the PDAF.

Its release was accurately timed with the controversy swirling over allegations of a P10 billion pork barrel scam masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles who has since been convicted.

The missing pieces, aside from the omissions in the 2007 to 2009 report, were in another report covering 2010 to 2012 that would have likely pinned key allies of Noynoy to the pork barrel scam.

Since the pork barrel doubled during the term of Noynoy primarily through the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which he used then to bribe legislators in ousting the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, the CoA investigation should include the discretionary funds that Noynoy used as leverage with Congress.

Sometime in 2012, when Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco bolted the majority, he revealed the Palace had a hand in the ramming of Corona’s impeachment and that it was a plot hatched within the circle of President Aquino.

Corona, in his rebuttal of the charges raised against him in public, said central to the efforts to impeach him was the Supreme Court decision favoring land distribution in Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by the relatives of Noynoy and an election protest case Roxas filed against then Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The PDAF disbursements were exploited to the hilt by the Palace in securing its wishes with House members.

Tiangco recounted then he was told in a majority caucus that they had a choice to either sign the impeachment document and support Noynoy or refuse the request that will mark them as enemies. It was a subtle warning of becoming a target of vindictive politics.

The Navotas congressman refused to sign the complaint, which resulted in his pork barrel being withheld, forcing him to call Abad to inquire on its release.

In reply, Abad told Tiangco he needed to seek the release of his PDAF from Noynoy through Speaker Sonny Belmonte.

In all, the CoA, by lending a hand to the conspiracy of Noynoy and his yellow allies, was tainted with political bias that it has yet to scrub off.

It can, however, restore its credibility by releasing the PDAF audit report in full.

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