COA probes Capitol’s sheep purchase anew

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has again conducted an investigation on the procurement of sheep by the provincial government of Negros Occidental in 2012.

Provincial Legal Officer Jose Maria Valencia said on Wednesday that state auditors came to the province last week.

“All the documents they were asking for have already gone through COA review. There was already a finding, but we’re going through a similar proceeding. They told me that theirs is different,” Valencia said.

He added: “For me, it’s still the same. Why should it be re-audited again? Do you doubt the observation and findings of the previous group?”

Valencia said the case stemmed from the procurement of sheep, the property, and the construction of shed house at the Negros First Ranch in Murcia.

Valencia said he was told that the department heads and the personnel, during the interview, were “already apprised of the Miranda Doctrine, like in a police investigation where they were told that they have the right to remain silent, they have the right to an attorney, if they can’t afford one, the government will provide you one.”

He added that it “alarmed” him, adding that “there must be something deeper” as the Capitol workers were already being cited with their rights.

Valencia said he got a copy of the COA order, stating that the audit team’s visit was in pursuant to the “inquisitorial and investigative powers of the Commission en banc,” meaning “they can only exercise that power in a case before the commission.”

He said that he wrote COA, telling them that “we were not informed that there was a case,” adding that “they have violated our constitutional rights that we should be informed of the nature and the cause of the accusation against us.”

Valencia added that after he sent the letter, the state auditors left after staying in the province for a week.

In the 2012 COA audit report, among its findings include irreconcilable statement. The report said that “despite several adjustments made in its accounts during the year (2012), the province of Negros Occidental was still unable to fully reconcile, identify, and properly classify balances of asset accounts totaling P1,495,603,639.22, which render doubtful the validity of 24.74 percent of the total assets recorded in the book of accounts of the LGU.”

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