MANILA— Alleged unliquidated cash advances in government agencies should be investigated, the former chief of the Commission on Audit said Wednesday in light of the President's revelations of billions in funds allegedly unaccounted for in the past administration.
"Sa palagay ko kasi pera din 'yun, pera ng bayan 'yun. So dapat talagang balikan at hindi lang DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) at saka DOJ (Department of Justice). Lahat sana ng ahensiya ganun ang gawin nila, whether in the past administration or in this present administration," ex-COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan told Teleradyo.
(I think because it's the public's money. So, it should be investigated and not only to DILG and DOJ. But they should do that to all agencies...)
Tan, who helmed the audit body from 2011 to 2015, stressed those with unsettled expenditures should be held to account.
"Kailangan balikan at panagutin 'yung mga hindi pa nakapag-liquidate. Singilin in other words," she said.
(It should be revisited and those who failed to liquidate should be held responsible. Make them pay, in other words.)
In his latest public address, Duterte brought up previous COA findings over unliquidated cash advances in the DILG and DOJ. He made such revelation in light of recent COA reports on alleged spending irregularities in various agencies under his administration.
Duterte said the DILG had P7 billion worth of unliquidated cash transfers while the DOJ had P600 million. The interior department was then under former Sen. Mar Roxas while Sen. Leila de Lima, his staunch critic now detained on drug charges, headed the DOJ.
In the 2013 COA annual financial report, state auditors said the DILG's unliquidated fund transfers were "due to non-monitoring of liquidations and submission of financial reports."
In 2016, Roxas' camp had explained that the funds were unliquidated as DILG's projects were being implemented at that time.
For her part, De Lima said those accounts "have long been settled and closed."
"Duterte raising issue with COA reports on the DILG and the DOJ under the PNoy Administration is a clear case of misdirection. I challenge Duterte to file cases with the Ombudsman arising from those COA reports," the detained senator wrote in her recent dispatch from Camp Crame.
"He cannot because those accounts have long been settled and closed. The COA knows that. That is why no further cases were made out of those reports, and that is why Duterte, with all his penchant for filing fabricated cases against me, was not able to fabricate a case out of those COA reports," she added.
In the Teleradyo interview, Tan noted that those who already left office were presumed to be cleared from government accountabilities.
"Sa lahat ng opisina, 'pag merong umaalis, may clearance dapat 'yan. Isa sa mga clearances ay 'yung COA," she said.
(In all offices, when someone leaves, there should be a clearance. One of those requirements is COA.)
It doesn't also necessarily mean that all unliquidated cash advances were committed by the head of office but rather a subordinate, Tan added.
She also reiterated that deficiencies flagged by COA do not immediately equate to corruption.
"Hindi namin sinasabi na may korapsyon. Ang nire-report ay kung ano ang nakikita namin sa audit," Tan said.
(We are not saying there is corruption. We only report what we find in the audit.)
"We do not make a judgement on whether there was corruption or not kasi nga hindi namin mandato 'yun (becaues that is not our mandate)," she added.