COA, Ombudsman urged to craft recommendation on publication of audit reports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) —The Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman should discuss the proposal to halt the publication of COA’s annual audit reports (AARs) and to come up with a recommendation to Congress, a lawmaker told a House hearing on Wednesday.

Abang Lingkod Party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano said any recommendation by the COA and the Ombudsman's office could be discussed by the House of Representatives when the period of amendments on the House Bill 8980, or the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2024, starts.

“Siguro I will just leave it, the discussion with regards to this, it’s better siguro na the COA and the Ombudsman will talk about it and then recommend to this august body so that during the period of amendments, it can be considered,” Paduano said.

He also said that lawmakers should carefully study the COA and Ombudsman’s recommendation.

“The recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove the publication of annual audit reports must be carefully evaluated so as not to undermine the principles of transparency, accountability and prudent governance,” Paduano added.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires asked the Congress to remove a provision in the GAA requiring the publication of the COA’s audit observation memorandum (AOM) during the House appropriations hearing on Sept. 11 on the Office of the Ombudsman’s proposed P5-billion budget.

Martires subsequently clarified his statement, saying he was against the immediate publication of AARs since audit findings can still be challenged.

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, the office of the Ombudsman’s budget sponsor in the plenary, reiterated Martires’ statement.

According to the Ombudsman, the reports should not be published if there are still further questions to it and if it has not yet been fully established.

He reiterated that the reports should only be published when it is completed.