Friday, September 18, 2009

Audit Body Begins Work In Davao City

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - The Office of House Speaker Prospero Nograles has belied claims that it was behind the move by the Commission on Audit (COA) to look deeply into the use of (Davao) City Hall of its huge budget for peace and order funds.

“The COA, just like the Commission on Human Rights, is a constitutional body which Congress has no control over,” said lawyer Karlo B. Nograles, son and chief-of-staff of the Speaker.

“Like any government office, we are also subject to a COA audit,” the young Nograles said during his weekly radio program called “Kalamboan Dala Tanan” over radio station dxAB.

Nograles was reacting to claims that fund releases in City Hall have been stopped on account of an ongoing audit by COA. The city’s peace and order funds amounted to about P450-million a year, or a shade above P1.2-million per day.

Davao enjoys up to P4-billion annual budget which is among the biggest in the country.

“The Office of the Speaker is also being audited by COA, but fund releases do not stop, we have continued with our projects and public services,” the lawyer said. “Audit is a simple turnover of proof of disbursements to COA, but it does not mean a stop to fund releases.”

Nograles said disbursement of funds could be stopped if there is no liquidation of all cash advances. “But that is not during the conduct of audit, but in the course of upright fiscal handling,” the lawyer said.

He said judicious use of government funds is the main reason why the Office of the Speaker has been transparent in the implementation of its projects. Aside from the regular publication of the Nograles Accomplishment Report, many public distributions of government aids are all recorded, including video documentation.

Public works projects are also marked by signboards because it is mandated by law.

In his Saturday afternoon radio program, Nograles confirmed that there are plans in Congress to conduct a legislative inquiry into the use of intelligence and peace and order funds. “But that is not in the lower house, but in Senate,” he said.

The lawyer said the Office of Senator Benigno Aquino III has proposed the investigation on the use of intelligence funds by local governments.

Quoting his father, the young Nograles said the lower house would be satisfied to exercise its oversight powers over local government expenditures during the marathon hearings on the 2010 national budget set to begin next week.

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