CoA reorganization imminent (3)

“Fiscal autonomy is a guarantee given by the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines to certain units of the government.

One of the items considered in the Commission on Audit Strategic Planning Conference for Calendar Years 2023-2029 held at Clark Hilton, in Mabalacat, Pampanga on 24-27 April, was filling the 5,000 vacant positions in the plantilla of CoA.

People were made to understand that the move was intended to help resolve the CoA huge backlog that is embarrassing the Commission Proper.

Five thousand vacant positions for state auditors are a big and significant figure with a lot of globally fascinating stories to tell behind it.

It means billions of pesos, which,  based on fiscal autonomy given by the 1987 Constitution to the Commission on Audit, was used freely by the CoA chairman and commissioner, with impunity of abuse,  beyond the bounce of ethical norms were used for trips to New York, Switzerland, Washington, D.C., USA, London, UK, and numerous other tours abroad, and a few intriguing hours one day, in August 2014, the entire CA population in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City,  was held in curious fascination with excitement when the CoA chairman ordered for the release of over two hundred million pesos savings from unfilled CoA positions,  for deposit to the ATM accounts of the eight thousand CoA officials and employees, at P30,000 each, as her thank you and farewell gift to all the CoA personnel, while she was waiting for her impending promotion to an exalted post.

In addition, she also gifted, all eight assistant commissioners with vans, worth P3.5 million. Each charged against savings from unfilled CoA positions.

Based on just a few instances that happened in CoA, is fiscal autonomy a boon or a curse to public service?

Fiscal autonomy is a guarantee given by the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines to certain units of the government. It is intended as a guarantee of separation of powers and independence from political agencies.

The units that have been given fiscal autonomy are the Constitutional Commission, the Ombudsman, and the judiciary.

Fiscal autonomy means freedom from outside control. If the Commission on Audit or CoA needs one hundred computers, but the Department of Budget and Management says that CoA needs only ten, CoA will ignore DBM and buys one hundred.

In rebuilding the CoA into the pillar of order in the bureaucracy and fiscal discipline in managing the scarce resources of the country, Mr. Cordoba will have to contend with the ugly realities that emerged from the impunity of abuse by his predecessors due to their distorted application of fiscal autonomy. The giving away of the huge amount of savings of the Commission by the CoA chairman and the CoA commissioners resulted in the formation of cliques within the CoA, grateful and loyal to the givers of the huge gift.

A clique is a group of people with shared interests who spend time together and allows others to join them promoting the interest of the CoA officials who gifted them. Filipinos are known for adhering to their sense of gratitude which according to foreigners was often time distorted.

After all these years, based on your observations and experience, is fiscal autonomy given to the CoA by the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, a boon or a curse to its rendition of audit service to the Filipino people?

According to the rank and file, the brain and brawn of the audit institution, cliques are lording it, over their outsiders,  in holding the more enjoyable and juicy positions in the CoA.

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