MANILA, Philippines — Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday (January 26) bared his plan to file a resolution to formalize his call for an audit by an independent private firm.
But he clarified further that such an audit could possibly entail: (1) an audit by an independent firm parallel to Commission of Audit’s (COA) own audit; (2) a sole audit conducted by a private firm independent of COA; or (3) an independent people’s audit.
“I just want Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to answer two things: (1) How was the P250,000 liquidated; and (2) From the P2 billion Senate budget, how much was liquidated by certification alone,” he said.
“What I’m saying is that we don’t need a professional audit or for every single centavo of the P2 billion Senate budget to be audited. I just want the public to be given a chance to look into the Senate books and see that we are doing the right thing and that we have nothing to hide. Whatever kind of audit that could bring that about is alright with me,” he said.
He dismissed claims that having such an audit done is not possible under the Constitution.
“There is no Constitutional or legal impediment to a private audit. I can tell COA that there have been instances in the past where a private audit was paid by a government entity and there was no legal impediment,” he said.
The minority leader assured COA Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan that it was not his intention to cast doubt on the integrity of the agency. Instead, he wants to ensure that COA’s integrity is not questioned during the conduct of the audit since some COA commissioners have yet to be appointed by the Commission on Appointments (CA), a panel headed by Senator Enrile.
“What I’m asking for is transparency and accountability. I’d like to let COA know that the people and the members of the Senate have full trust in you. I’m only saying that we have nothing to lose but everything to gain if we have a parallel audit conducted to settle this issue,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be a technical, legal audit. Just bring out the documents so that the people will find out the truth,” he added.
Cayetano also reiterated his call to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his fellow senators to stick to the real issue of transparency in the liquidation and certification of funds in the Senate and not resort to squid tactics to divert attention away from the main issue.
“While the arguments seemingly went to the gutter, let us go back to the real issue that has everything to do with the integrity and independence of the Senate,” he said.