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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Solon dares COA to bare report on OVP use of confidential funds

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Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Arlene Brosas on Tuesday called on the Commission on Audit (COA) to release its audit report on the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) confidential fund expenses.

Brosas of the militant Gabriela party-list made the call as the COA has committed to finish the audit of the confidential fund today, Nov. 15.

“We believe that the Filipino people have the right to know how public funds are being utilized, especially when it involves significant amounts such as the OVP’s P125 million corruption-prone confidential funds transferred from the Office of the President and spent within just 11 days in 2022,” Brosas stressed.

“It is crucial that the full audit report of all government agencies be made available to the public. We need transparency and accountability in the handling of public funds to ensure that they aroused for their intended purpose and not for personal gain,” she added.

The lawmaker noted that the issue on confidential and intelligence funds has-been “rightfully criticized by the public for years as it escapes genuine audit and public scrutiny, creating a loophole that allows those handling them to evade accountability to the Filipino people.

“We urge the government to address this issue and ensure the responsible utilization of public funds. It is crucial that confidential funds undergo the same audit procedures implemented in any other government expenses,” Brosas said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has posted clean audits in recent years, according to the COA.

“For 2022 and prior years, no Notice of Suspension, Notice of Disallowance, and Notice of Charge was issued,” the COA report stated.

COA issues a notice of suspension when there are transaction discrepancies on compliance with requirements, “which may result in pecuniary loss to the government.

The COA, on the other hand, issues a notice of disallowance when the use of public funds is deemed illegal.

The House under the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez has instituted belt-tightening measures to ensure cost-efficient operations.

Citing a COA report issued on July 6, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco has asserted that the chamber’s use of public funds under Romualdez’s stewardship has been above-board.

The Speaker’s Office has credited the cooperation of the lawmakers and the legislative staff in the implementation of the belt-tightening measures, thus the House was able to reduce its spending.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte earlier cited alleged irregularities in House spending and criticized the chamber’s “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses.”

In response, Velasco said it has not been flagged by state auditors for any funds misuse.

Velasco also released a COA certification for the quarter ending September 30, 2023 which indicated that the House has zero suspensions, charges and disallowances.

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