The yellow mob may just spring a surprise in the runup to the 2022 elections through another Special Audit of the Commission on Audit (CoA), which it continues to dominate akin to the one undertaken on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2013, but this time covering the flagship projects of President Rodrigo Duterte in the “Build, Build, Build” program.
A former CoA official revealed to Daily Tribune that the project is in the works, which was the reason for the preoccupation of CoA officials in the so-called Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) that was a scheme introduced by President Noynoy Aquino’s appointees, former chairman Grace Pulido-Tan and commissioner Heidi Mendoza.
The audit scheme, which extensively relies on civil society groups, was effectively tried and tested in the pork barrel audit, which resulted in damaging the Senate, House of Representatives, Department of Budget and Management, Commission on Audit and the Republic of the Philippines, according to former CoA State Auditor V Art Besana.
The accounting scheme is not even sanctioned under CoA rules since it enlists the participation of individuals who have no formal training, experience and proficiency in the review, evaluation and analysis of records and official documents.
Allowing citizens with different political affiliations to participate in an audit will result in reports with conflicting bias and partisan undertones, Besana noted.
The erstwhile CoA member revealed that the CPA has been going on since the first year of President Duterte’s term.
On 12 December 2017 and 10 January 2018, these were held at the CoA Regional Training Center in San Fernando, Pampanga and at the CoA Professional Development Center in Quezon City on 18 January 2018.
The dialogue was attended by 44 CoA officials, a mix of directors and auditors, six representatives of civil society organizations (CSO), one representative from a professional organization, two from the Philippine National Volunteer Coordinating Agency and from development partners.
The CSO were represented by the International Holistic Engagement for Life and Progress, Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific Foundation, International Care Ministries Foundation Inc. and the CODE-NGO of former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Dinky Soliman.
The National Defense College of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines were also represented, development partners present were from the World Bank and The Netherlands-based HIVOS International, while the professional organization represented was the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Other diverse groups were approached for the yellow-branded consultations.
Besana said he and other retired and senior CoA state auditors assert that there is no substitute to auditing in accordance with the basic policies and standards prescribed under Presidential Decree 1445, or the Auditing Code of the Philippines.
He cited Section 54 of the Code which stated: (1) The audit shall be performed by a person possessed with adequate technical training and proficiency as auditor; (2) In all matters relating to the audit work, the auditor shall maintain complete independence, impartiality and objectivity and shall avoid any possible compromise of his independence or any act which may create a presumption of lack of independence or possibility of undue influence in the performance of his duties; and (3) The auditor shall exercise due professional care and be guided by applicable laws, regulations and the generally accepted principles of accounting in the performance of the audit work as well as in the preparation of audit and financial reports.
Thus, the likely results of the current CPA will be arbitrary similar to the PDAF Special Report.
Besana said after three years and four months of auditing P41.038 billion out of the P115.96 billion of PDAF and Various Infrastructure Including Local Projects released by DBM to members of Congress, Pulido-Tan came out only with a report without a single peso of disallowance that is what CoA is mandated to do.
The infrastructure program is being targeted since it is the showcase of the accomplishments of the Duterte administration and the main source of the political demise of the yellow mob.