In raising supposed irregularities at the Department of Health and other agencies involved in the campaign against Covid-19, senators extensively quoted the Commission on Audit (CoA) report that the agency itself has admitted as “not completed.”
Yet no matter how the reports are stretched and twisted, the CoA process in checking the agencies itself was flawed, according to state accountants themselves.
Adopted under CoA chair Michael Aguinaldo was the institutionalization and expansion of the Citizens Participatory Audit (CPA) that was formalized as one of the initiatives in CoA’s Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2022.
Senior auditors observed that the period of adoption and expansion of the CPA was timed within the time frame of the election period of the national and local elections slated on 9 May 2022.
The scheme was originally hatched in April 2012 by the tandem of former CoA chair Grace Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, when they formalized a partnership with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) to implement a two-year Participatory Audit Program that focuses on providing technical assistance to the CoA in its efforts to open public processes to citizens. Retired State Auditor V Art Besana said the overall goal of the yellow scheme was to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the use of public resources.
But while the ANSA-EAP was sincere in extending its technical assistance to assist the Republic of the Philippines, through CoA, the tandem of Tan and Mendoza had something else in their minds, which is to repurpose the CPA with deviations from the standards required by both the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions and the UN Board of Audit.
What came out was a “dissimulated” audit program or mechanism, that Besana described as a potent political machinery that could cement both of them in their positions of tremendous advantage and operate as instruments in perpetuating the then President of the Republic of the Philippines and his immediate subalterns in their positions of power and influence forever. These deviations, known as engaging in populist demagogueries, are prohibited by the two world bodies, according to Besana.
But be that as it may, the late President Noynoy Aquino must have his way to implement his self-styled blueprint of governance by hook or by crook, he added.
Aquino had two highly-qualified ladies with remarkable educational backgrounds and civil service credentials: Attorney-CPA Grace Pulido-Tan and CoA State Auditor V Heidi Mendoza, CPA.
Both were groomed for commission proper positions in CoA. Pulido-Tan was then holding the position of Undersecretary of Finance on taxation before being recommended by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima for the position of CoA head. Mendoza was being eyed for the position of Commissioner.
But Noynoy Aquino had a problem. Nobody from CoA nor from any government office was recommending Heidi Mendoza for the post. She was riding high on her exploits in her alleged audit of the accounts of Armed Forces comptroller, Maj. General Carlos Garcia.
This case provoked public anger when, despite alleged damning testimonies by Heidi, the government prosecutors supported Garcia’s plea to a lesser, bailable offense, instead of the non-bailable charge of plunder.