COA: It's up to Ombudsman, DOJ to file raps
MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) did its job, painstakingly looking into records and gathering evidence of how billions of pesos in pork barrel funds were misused from 2007 to 2009.
Now it is up to the agencies of government tasked to investigate the scam to identify who should face prosecution.
COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan said her agency’s powers are limited and it is not up to state auditors to determine who should be held liable and who should be absolved.
“I have complete faith and confidence in the integrity of the Ombudsman. And as she herself said, she is impervious to any
influence,” Tan said, referring to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales who also began investigating the pork barrel mess.
“When filing the case in court, it requires a quantum of evidence to support it. Right now I can tell you that we are assisting the Ombudsman and the DOJ (Department of Justice), we’re committed to put ourselves at their disposal, in so far as building up a case from the evidence we have,” Tan said.
“The decision if cases will be filed against congressmen and senators is not with us. That is with the investigating bodies particularly the Ombudsman and the DOJ. Ours is the report, the evidence they would probably need,” she said.
“Somehow justice catches up,” Tan remarked after revealing what she described as “horrifying” results of the special audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.
“Personally I believe the PDAF has its own place. But in the way it has been dispensed, it has been used, it has been… completely way beyond our control,” Tan said.
Tan told reporters that she too was saddened by the COA findings.
Tan refused to point an accusing finger at anyone.
She said the special audit does not reveal any particular person or non-government organization (NGO) that pocketed government money.
“Whether or not it went to their pockets, our audit never went beyond that. We are not auditing the NGOs,” she said.
But under the rules, the implementing agency is supposed to be the one accountable for the PDAF given to them by lawmakers released through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), she said.
Tan told reporters in her press briefing Friday of how implementing agencies said that it is the lawmakers who choose their NGOs and, in some instances, they do not really monitor because it’s the office of the legislator who oversees the implementation.
“I think that the DOJ and the Ombudsman are already investigating and I think that we just have to wait for the results of their investigation on the culpability of the legislators, the offices of the legislators, and the implementing agencies,” she said.