NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/10 June) – The Commission on Audit is an independent body mandated by the Constitution to safeguard the resources of the State. Among its primary tasks is to ascertain and assure that all government funds are spent for official expenditures or for the legally intended purpose.
The independence of the COA is now put to test with President Duterte’s exhortation of the Commission to reconsider the disallowance of the P5M that Bangon Marawi chief Eduardo del Rosario had diverted from the rehab undertaking under his care to finance the Hajj of some Marawi residents; otherwise, there would accordingly be a revolution in Mindanao.
The diversion of funds was justified as part of the healing process for the ravaged city.
In exhorting the Commission to reconsider its disapproval of the irregular fund diversion, Duterte claims that under his watch as mayor of Davao City since 1988 and until now, the City under the leadership of daughter Sarah Duterte, has always allocated funds for hajj to connect to some pacification effort.
But no less than Palace legal adviser Salvador Panelo said that if the COA report is true, the fund diversion for the mecca pilgrimage amounts to technical malversation.
An expenditure is a technical malversation if it is outside what is budgeted for the purpose. It is punishable by law.
Can the Commission on Audit weather the pressure of the very powerful and charismatic president of the republic?
How will the COA also respond to the claim of the former mayor of Davao City of his own and that of his daughter’s diversion of public funds to finance pilgrimages to Mecca?
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines)