4Ps, electric coop loans among those cited for citizen audit

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Nov) – The implementation of the Pangtawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and loans obtained by the electric cooperatives in parts of Mindanao are among those cited by civil society organizations (CSOs) to be subjected to citizen participatory audit (CPA) in an agenda-building workshop here last Tuesday as part of its national road show.

During the workshop, representatives from civil society organizations outlined projects in Mindanao using government funds that they want to be subjected for audit under the CPA project.

The activity was part of the Roadshow and Shared Agenda Building for the project in Davao City organized by the Commission on Audit national office and the Affiliated Network of Social Accountability in East Asia Pacific (ANSA-EAP).

Among the projects presented that cut across provinces is the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer, especially in the distribution of benefits. Some of the participants raised the question on allegations that cash received by the beneficiaries went through irregular cuts or reductions.

Aida Maria Talavera, COA technical services director, said citizen participatory audit (CPA) is not a separate audit initiative by citizens but a joint audit with COA.

The CPA’s main objectives are to enhance government transparency through citizen participation in the audit process and to increase awareness that a vigilant and involved citizenry promotes greater accountability in government.

Under the project, according to its website, special audit teams with COA and citizen auditors will be created to conduct value-for-money or performance audits of selected government programs.

The project was piloted in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) flood control project in the Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela (CaMaNaVa) area; CCT beneficiaries and barangay health centers in Marikina; and the solid waste management implementation in Quezon City

The CSOs in the Davao City workshop presented that projects that could be submitted to COA for the CPA scheme include the implementation of CCT in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental; Davao Oriental; in Kalilangan, Bukidnon; and in Maguindanao, among other areas.

According to COA, citizen participatory audit aims to enhance transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in the audit process. It is a project where citizens such as members of civil society, academic groups, communities or the private sector join the COA to audit the process of delivering public services and government programs.

CPA, according to COA, is part of the national government’s commitment to the Open Governance Partnership (OGP).

COA has already pilot-tested the project with government agencies and CSOs since last year and plans to include Mindanao projects in the succeeding years.

Another common area the CSOs around Mindanao cited for citizen audit are the transactions involving loans of electric cooperatives. They wanted to know where the loans were used, among other things, in Misamis Oriental and in Lanao del Sur.

After presentations from COA and partners, CSO representatives in the workshop were asked to list the top three projects they want to be audited using CPA.

The other areas include audit of funds collected by government agencies from large scale mining companies with emphasis on the need to check if payments made are proportionate to the mining companies’ sales and profits.

The CSOs identified mining firms TVI in Zamboanga, Taganito in Caraga, and SMI in South Cotabato.

CSOs also wanted to know if technical requirements were complied with in the bidding and construction of bridges and school buildings in Davao City and Misamis Oriental. They wanted to check if the materials used in actual construction were the same as those provided for in the contracts.

CSOs working in North Cotabato want to use CPA to audit health centers or rural health units (RHUs). They wanted to check inventories and the procurement process. The groups also wanted to check if CSOs are represented in the bidding process.

The groups wanted to check if calamity funds are used well, if all funds are used or diverted elsewhere, and if CSOs are present in the bidding process. Another area they wanted audited with the help of citizens are transactions for agricultural inputs for farmers.

The list includes the need to check alleged bribing in the hiring of teachers by the Department of Education in Maguindanao; the proper use of the internal revenue allotment of barangays in Davao Oriental; compliance to Environmental Compliance Certificate of companies in Lanao del Sur; the release of benefits to host communities of Department of Energy projects in Lanao del Sur; the LGU housing project for Typhoon Sendong survivors and LGU waterworks project in Iligan City; the construction of the Babak Wharf Pathwalk in the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS); the implementation of the National Greening Program in Kalilangan, Bukidnon; and the construction of the P225-million public market complex in Malaybalay City.

According to the project, citizens can help audit the use of public funds and other resources by reporting anomalies on the use of government funds, helping as citizen auditors, submitting feedback on the implementation of government projects, monitor and demand for the implementation of audit recommendations, assisting in the design and pretest of tools such as survey questionnaires, and serving as resource speakers during capacity building workshops.

The list includes becoming respondents of audit-related surveys, interviews, focused group discussions, etc.; by reporting cases of anomalies in the delivery of public goods and services especially in the local areas; performing data gathering methodologies during audit execution; and by sharing knowledge and expertise with COA on some audit-related activities like training.