MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada said the Commission on Audit (COA) should not be the agency that should look into the accounts and transactions related to the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
While the COA is constitutionally mandated to examine the accounts, its findings may be suspect since the body was also allegedly a recipient of DAP funds, he said.
Estrada, who is being tried for allegedly pocketing pork barrel funds, said an independent body composed of esteemed personalities from the academe, mass media, retired justices, private auditors, among others, should probe and audit the releases made under the DAP.
He noted that during the hearings on the 2014 budget, Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan admitted requesting and receiving funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to finance the modernization program of the commission.
A total of P143 million, which was sourced from the DAP, was supposedly given to the COA for information technology infrastructure (P68,352,000), installation of closed-circuit television (P2,079,000), hiring of litigation experts and legal and management consultants (P4,607,000), and purchase of service vehicles (P5,115,000).
"Did these COA 'projects' help boost the economy, as the DAP they say was intended for fast moving projects and to pump prime the economy?" Estrada asked.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down as unconstitutional acts under the DAP.
He noted that since DAP was spent outside the enacted budget, no one knows how much taxpayer's money was channeled through the unconstitutional mechanism.
"I think we can all agree that the people have the right to know how public funds were used, how much has been poured into the DAP, what projects were funded using this scheme, and whether these projects were completed or not," he said.
"Full disclosure and special audit are in order. However, I have serious reservations about the COA, being a recipient of the fund, as the auditor," he added.