Divest CoA of quasi-judicial power

Even in the audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, no less than the Supreme Court had noted COA’s inutility.

The Commission on Audit has to repent and reform.

Otherwise, the State may divest it of its quasi-judicial power and return it to its former status under the 1935 Constitution, as the General Auditing Office. Under GAO, the auditor has no quasi-judicial power.

Quasi-judicial power refers to a proceeding conducted by an administrative or executive official or organization that is similar to a court proceeding, e.g. a hearing conducted by the CoA Commission Proper. A court may review a decision arising from a quasi-judicial proceeding.

Under Section 2, Article X of the 1935 Constitution, “It shall be the duty of the Auditor General to bring to the attention of the proper administrative officer expenditure of funds or property which, in his opinion, are irregular, unnecessary, excessive, or extravagant. He shall also perform such other functions as may be prescribed by law.”

Keen political observers; learned men in the academe; finance accounting, and law practitioners, including judges and even justices of the graft court, have expressed their disdain, on matters involving double jeopardy, for repetition by CoA commissioner of issues that have been previously settled by jurisprudence. These experts in their field of discipline have noted and discussed in public forums numerous failures by the CoA in the performance of its constitutional duty.

The lifting of selective pre-audit by CoA on 22 July 2011 under CoA Circular 2011-002 allowed the procurement by President Noynoy Aquino without the audit and inspection of Dengvaxia and the controversial procurement of 48 trains for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 that were delivered in 2016 but were unused due to incompatibility issues. Both procurements involving a huge amount of public funds were fully paid.

Even in the audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, no less than the Supreme Court had noted CoA’s inutility. According to the Court, “Grace Pulido Tan has been Chairman of the Commission on Audit since 2011, but she could not explain why, given the fact that the alleged misuse of the PDAF has been going on for a long time, CoA had failed to look into this matter.”

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Teresita de Castro then asked the CoA Chief, “Where was CoA all along?” This question was directed to Pulido Tan during the oral argument on the PDAF on 8 October 2013 where she appeared as a “Friend of the Court.”

Pulido Tan took the easy way and laid the blame on her predecessors, saying that she cannot answer the question posed to her by the Justice, claiming she was not with CoA then.

The answer failed to sit well with Justice De Castro. As she pointed out that the CoA is not ‘bound by regulations of budget and management,’ stressing that CoA is bound by its own constitutional mandate to do the job.

“You cannot just blame past CoA officials. There should be institutional continuity in the agency,” De Castro said.

Pulido Tan replying to Justice De Castro said that while she is not blaming those who came before her in CoA, she gave a very strange answer, saying that she cannot explain why she, in all that time, did not come up with an audit of the PDAF.

During the period 2010-2021, CoA has been involved in landmark cases that will haunt the audit institution for its failure to take action where that action was necessary to preclude an injustice.

A landmark case is a court case that must be studied because it has historical and legal significance. The most significant cases are those that have had a lasting effect on the application of certain laws, often concerning individual rights and liberties. We have lots of these cases that happened in CoA from 2010 to 2021.

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