‘Vital instrument vs corruption’: Business groups get behind COA, reiterate its mandate amid criticism

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2021 04:32 PM | Updated as of Aug 21 2021 04:34 PM

MANILA— Various business groups on Saturday rallied to support the Commission on Audit (COA) and its findings, days after it drew the ire of public officials for flagging discrepancies in disbursing public funds. 

In a joint statement, 26 business groups said the COA's constitutional mandate must be upheld to keep democratic institutions free from corruption. 

The COA's findings must also be respected, they added, since those show important records that warrant public concern. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week urged his Cabinet members to ignore COA's reports because nothing really happens if it gets published. 

"Such is the constitutional nature of the Commission, with the power and mandatory duty to serve as a robust check-and-balance on the power to disburse and use public funds and properties, ensure that effective controls are in place to protect government financial assets and properties, improve effectiveness and efficiency, and be a vital instrument against corruption and misuse of public funds and properties," the statement read. 

The business groups also pointed out that the 1987 Constitution describes the COA as an independent body free from political influence.

It is the duty of the Filipino public, therefore, to make sure that constitutional agencies remained independent, and that their mandates would be upheld, they added. 

This is more important now as the country faces uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was also why the public should support agencies tasked to address corruption in government. 

"Upholding their constitutional mandates goes beyond compliance with the law; it is an affirmation of the moral duty and social conscience that we owe to our people. Our Constitution, which every public official has sworn to uphold under pain of penalty, demands no less," according to the statement. 

"Graft and corruption... will aggravate the current pandemic-driven situation of widespread hunger, unemployment, uncertainty and undue hardship and suffering of our people."

The groups that signed the statement included:

  • AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (AMCHAM)
  • ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY
  • ATENEO DE NAGA UNIVERSITY
  • ATENEO DE ZAMBOANA UNIVERSITY
  • CHAMBER OF THRIFT BANKS
  • FILIPINA CEO CIRCLE
  • FINANCIAL EXECUTIVES INSTITUTE OF THE PHILIPPINES (FINEX)
  • FINANCIAL EXECUTIVES INSTITUTE OF CEBU INC. (FINEX CEBU)
  • FINEX ACADEMY INC.
  • FINEX RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, INC.
  • FINTECH ALLIANCE PH
  • GUILD OF REAL ESTATE ENTREPRENEURS AND PROFESSIONALS INC. (GREENPRO)
  • INSTITUTE OF SOLIDARITY IN ASIA INC. (ISA)
  • INTEGRITY INITIATIVE
  • INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPIINES (IPAP)
  • INVESTMENT HOUSE ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (IHAP)
  • JUDICIAL REFORM INITIATIVE (JRI)
  • LICENSING EXECUTIVES SOCIETY PHILIPPINES (LESP)
  • MAKATI BUSINESS CLUB (MBC)
  • MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP)
  • PHILIPPINE COUNCIL OF ASSOCIATIONS AND ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVES (PCAAE)
  • PROCUREMENT AND SUPPLY INSTITUTE OF ASIA (PASIA)
  • SHAREHOLDERS’ ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (SHAREPHIL)
  • SUBDIVISION AND HOUSING DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION INC. (SHDA)
  • TAX MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (TMAP)
  • XAVIER UNIVERSITY – ATENEO DE CAGAYAN DE ORO

Duterte's anti-COA remarks came amid mounting criticism against the Department of Health (DOH), which the COA reported mishandled P67 billion in COVID-19 funds. 

Lawmakers, however, also reminded the President of the COA's constitutional mandate, with a former COA commissioner pointing out that their reports reflect how they love to protect government from corruption. 

The COA is the supreme auditing arm of the Philippine government, with the 1987 Constitution reiterating its role as the "sole official external auditor" of government agencies as well as government-owned-and-controlled corporations (GOCCs). 

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