This was the question Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro put to COA chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan during the oral arguments regarding the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
“Considering that the alleged misused of PDAF has been on going for some time, where has COA been all along?” she asked.
To which Pulido Tan replied: “Your honor, I wish I could answer your question but I have not been with COA then.”
But De Castro was not satisfied with the answer, noting that the agency was “not bound by the regulations” of the Department of Budget and Management.
“You have your own constitutional mandate to do your work… You cannot just put the blame on past COA officials. There should be institutional continuity in the agency,” De Castro said.
Pulido Tan agreed that the COA was not bound by DBM rules but explained that she was not blaming her predecessors. “I did not mean to put blame to my predecessor. I am sorry I cannot explain.”
Meanwhile, Pulido Tan noted that the COA will not produce a special report on PDAF because the audit reports on lawmakers’ discretionary funds were already integrated in the regular audit of agencies.
Earlier, the state auditor released a special report on PDAF disbursement from 2007 to 2009 which revealed that about P6.156 billion in lawmakers’ pork barrel funds went to 82 mostly questionable NGOs, some of which have been linked to Janet Lim-Napoles.
The COA report was one of the bases of the plunder complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman against Napoles and several lawmakers. — BM, GMA News