Ombudsman: COA’s published audit observations cause more confusion

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The Office of the Ombudsman urged Congress to remove the requirement to publish the audit observations of the Commission on Audit (COA), insisting that the reports cause confusion.

During the House Committee on Appropriations hearing on the office’s proposed 2024 budget, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said the public’s perception on multimillion-peso projects having auditing problems lead to negative assumptions on officials.

Meron po sana akong gustong i-mungkahi sa Kongreso na kung pwede ay alisin na sa special provisions o sa general provisions ng GAA (General Appropriations Act) yung pagpa-publish ng audit observation memorandum,” the Ombudsman said.

[Translation: I would like to suggest to Congress that if possible, the publication of audit observation memorandum be removed from the special provisions or the general provisions of the GAA]

Nagko-cause po ng gulo, kasi sa pananaw ng isang tao pag nabasa niya na mayroong isang ₱10-million project na may konting aberya, ay sasabihin kaagad na itong government official ay kumikita doon sa milyong-milyong proyekto, pero di lang pala na-submit ang resibo,” he added.

[Translation: It's causing confusion, because from a person's point of view, when they read that there is a ₱10-million project with a little glitch, they will immediately say that this government official is making money from the project, but it turns out they just failed to submit the receipt.]

Martires said the office commonly dismisses some cases filed regarding audits that are easily solved but the dismissal creates an “innuendo that the Ombudsman earned” a part of the missing allocation.

Also citing confusion as a reason, Martires previously proposed penalties for "making commentaries" on the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net (SALN) Worth of government officials and employees.

In 2020, Martires released stringent rules for public access to SALNs, including asking for a notarized authorization from the filer.