COA chief backs call for senators to submit receipts
Senators do not submit receipts for MOOE, says Grace Pulido-Tan
MANILA, Philippines -- It has been the "tradition" among senators not to submit receipts for their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), the Commission on Audit (COA) chief said Friday.
COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan said among all government agencies, only the Senate has this system for its liquidation system.
"In case of the Senate, Senado lang po ang mayroong ganitong paraan, ang binibigay po nilang kwenta sa kanilang accountants na pinapadala naman sa aming mga auditor ay 'yun pong tinatawag na certification. Nilalagay lang po dun ng senador kung san niya ginastos pero wala pong resibo, walang dokumento that other agencies would have to attach," Tan told radio dzMM.
"Since late 80s or early 90s, parang naging ganun ang practice and that is also included in the rules of the Senate," she added.
While Tan said the rule may seem questionable, she admitted that she never felt the need to require the senators to account their expenses by filing proper receipts.
"Of course, there's something amiss about this, why they would be treated differently," she said.
"Pero parang courtesy naman... Mga senador natin 'yan eh, mga halal ng taumbayan. Parang there is probably no reason then to doubt whatever they put in writing as having been spent from the funds given to them. It was okay to take their word for it."
"They have my highest esteem. When they say 'ito ginastos namin,' what reason do we have to doubt?" Tan added.
But now that senators themselves have started reporting that fellow senators are not using their MOOE funds properly, Tan said COA will definitely take action.
She added that COA has the authority to prescribe accounting rules to any government agency.
"Hindi naman pala ginagastos ng ayon sa kanilang sinasabing pinaggagastusan. Aba eh kailangan po nating matingnan 'yan."
"We have the exclusive authority to define the scope and limitations of our audit and to prescribe accounting and auditing rules," Tan said.
JPE's fund distribution legal
Tan once again reiterated that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's distribution of additional MOOE from Senate savings to his fellow senators was legal.
She said it is stated in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) that the head of the Senate has the authority to augment any item in the GAA from any savings in their respective appropriations.
"Meron po siyang authority, napaka-clear under the constitution and under the law," she said.
She said, instead of engaging each other in word wars, senators should instead take action on the matter.
"If they want to do something about this, then they should probably review the discretion that is being given, the authority that is being given to the heads of the agencies," Tan said.