A toothless tiger

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Sunday, June 15, 2014


THE Commission on Audit (COA) is supposed to be the watchdog that keeps track of government funds. But it seems the agency has not lived up to one of its mandates, which is to stop graft and corruption, and appears to be a “toothless tiger.” Nagdako lang ang baba pero way ngipon.

COA has been coming out with audit reports questioning and disallowing government transactions, especially in various local government units, claiming most of these transactions were illegal.

Just recently, it ordered a town chief executive to recover the amount that it gave to its employees as bonus because it exceeded the allowable limit.

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In Talisay City, it came up with reports that Mayor Johnny de los Reyes’s hiring of his mayor’s squad duplicated the function of the existing traffic division, which was created under an ordinance.

It also questioned the hiring of a security agency that did not go through proper bidding and worse, the security guards under Black Pearl Security Agency were also hired as job-order employees by the Talisay City Hall. Is that what we call double compensation? The City Government paid the security agency based on their contract and, at the same time, the security guards also receive a salary from the City as job-order employees? Very unique. Only in Talisay.

COA also disallowed various transactions incurred during the administration of former governor Gwendolyn Garcia, saying these were illegal because these did not pass through the Provincial Board. Overall, the transactions involve around P540 million. Since these were paid during the incumbency of Gov. Hilario Davide III, COA ordered him to recover the amount from various contractors and suppliers. Mauli pa kaha? Paputol akong liog.

Since these were transactions during Gwen’s administration, Capitol will ask her to settle matter as it becomes her personal liability.

Yesterday, an article came out in Sun.Star Cebu that questioned cash advances in the amount of P64 million made by Danao City officials as advance payment to a contractor for a bulk water project.

So after the discovery of these questionable transactions and dealings, what happens next?

Will COA charge the officials involved? Does the agency have the prosecutorial power to file charges and prosecute them? Or will it pass its findings to the ombudsman for the anti-graft body to conduct further investigation and to file the necessary charges if evidence warrants it?

In Cebu City alone, there were a lot of elected officials who failed to liquidate their cash advances. In fact, some of them have already retired from politics or have died. I am not saying that they pocketed the money but they just failed to liquidate it for some reason or another. As a result, it became their personal liability.

Did COA charge those officials or recover the money? I doubt it.

A huge percentage of government funds go to unnecessary expenses and spending and to graft and corruption.

COA plays a vital role to safeguard the taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately, it is failing miserably in performing this function. Naay commission, pero walay audit.

***

Most public utility vehicles have “May reklamo ka? Tawag sa LTFRB: 2317466/2316221” either painted at the side or at the back. But it seems the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB 7) is not protecting the riding public against abusive drivers and dilapidated vehicles.

It cannot even act on or entertain an official complaint against an abusive taxi driver, much more act on mere telephone calls.

On behalf of his lady friend, Zacarias “Nene” Hermosisima wrote a letter to LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon complaining against an abusive Juscar taxi driver last March 14.

The victim of that abusive driver, who was suffering from a lingering illness when the incident happened last March 10 died, last May 3.

Until now, Hermosisima has yet to receive any feedback from LTFRB 7. Ah, siguro nabusy lang si Director Cuizon sa pagpost og mga photos sa iyang Facebook. Mahiligon man god na siya moposing sa Facebook.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2014.

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