Disallowing projects: where COA, system fail

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Thursday, June 12, 2014


WHAT can go right in a system where COA tells Cebu Province, three to six years after the fact, that P540 million projects were illegal and should be disallowed?

COA knows that no government agency sues (a) to recover the money, from contractors or public officials who "illegally" paid them, or (b) to punish violators.

It infuriates citizens that for each disallowance of millions of pesos not spent according to law and the rules, they're reminded something is rotten and hasn't been fixed. Ever heard of COA orders to refund being heeded?

Some P.54 billion Capitol projects between 2008 and 2011 were contracted unlawfully. Does that tell us COA is doing its job and the system works?

No but COA must think it's good p.r. And ruling politicians gloat over "another anomaly" of their rivals being exposed.

COA believes spending by then governor Gwen Garcia violated the law because it was not approved by Provincial Board. Gwen believes the PB didn't need to approve the 58 projects covered by earlier lump sum outlays.

Was an ordinance required for the contracted obligations, or did the general appropriation suffice? The Supreme Court in effect says the original budget must give enough specifics to do away with another PB review.

Definite rule

Clarify by law or COA edict. Remove fuzziness by a categorical and definite rule.

Ambiguity becomes more troubling when governor and board members, with clashing political interests, claw at one another over authority and turf. And COA rules several years after the "misdeed" and the money is long gone.

(paseares@sunstar.com.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 13, 2014.

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