If That Is So, Then COA Should Do Something About It!

President’s Office Fails COA Audit
By Malou Mangahas
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Unliquidated cash advances, “loans” without records, donations diverted to uses not prescribed by donors, understated expenses and overstated accounts in the hundreds of millions of pesos, all sourced from taxpayers’ money.

These irregular transactions in clear breach of government accounting and auditing rules mark financial transactions in the Office of the President (OP) under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2007, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

The report on the presidency for 2007 contained 11 qualified comments and observations on these erroneous entries – mostly the same errors COA had noted in its 2006 audit of the same office.

COA also pointed out that of the 11 audit recommendations it made in the 2006 audit, only four were fully implemented, three partially implemented, and four not implemented at all by Malacañang.

Thus, for the second year in a row, COA rendered “a qualified opinion on the fairness of the presentation of the financial statements of the OP.”

The OP Proper consists of “the Private Offices, the Presidential Assistant System, the Executive Offices, the General Government Administration Staff, the Internal Audit Service Unit, the Locally Funded/Foreign Assisted Projects, and the Other Executive Offices.” The OP also “directly supervises 58 other executive offices, agencies, commissions, and committees that warrant the special attention of the President.”

The OP kitty is obviously substantial. In 2007, the OP received total cash inflows of P3.38 billion, or 13 percent more than the P2.99 billion it got in 2006. Of the 2007 figure, P2.31 billion came from notices of cash allocation from the Department of Budget and Management. The OP collected another P1.06 billion as its share in the net earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The OP likewise raised service income of P9.3 million, interest income of P4.05 million, and miscellaneous income of P3.3 million.

COA said that the OP’s total cash outflows reported in 2007 amounted to P2.67 billion, or 13 percent more than the P2.36 billion in 2006.

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Read also, "Arroyo Fails COA Audit", by the PCIJ

Leaders should be fully accountable to the people they serve, and people should vigorously demand accountability from their leaders at all times.

If we must reform this nation, full public accountability is the key to one of the many doors of our future that we as a people must strive diligently to open.