COA should do preventive audit to stop Pharmally-type corruption | Inquirer Opinion

COA should do preventive audit to stop Pharmally-type corruption

/ 05:00 AM May 15, 2024

Too little, too late.

An English proverb goes: “Closing the barn after the horse has bolted.” This is the situation we find in the Philippines now in these cases being filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against many high officials of the previous administration, among them former Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and former head of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management Lloyd Christopher Lao on the questionable transfer of funds amounting to P41.46 billion to the latter’s office by the DOH to procure emergency supplies and equipment. The transfer was made at the height of the COVID-19 emergency even if the DOH could have undertaken the purchasing themselves. Lao was the point person in Malacañang taking orders from presidential aide Christopher “Bong” Go.

Now, here comes the Ombudsman filing the cases only after more than two years. The Senate blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon had arrived at the same findings including possible indictment of then President Rodrigo Duterte for command responsibility. But this was shelved by the Senate bloc close to Malacañang despite the well-documented findings. So, all of these attempts to file the cases now are too late after having lost everything due to negligence and some of the foreigners accused are on the lam.

There are ways that the Pharmally-type of anomalies can be prevented. There is not much we can do with P50 billion of our tax money lost, much less see the successful prosecution in our lifetime. The Commission on Audit (COA) could easily come up with such findings in the course of the audit because they are supposed to be there when transactions are processed. A COA officer is detailed at every government office and is in charge of approving all financial transactions even before funds can be disbursed.


It’s about time that COA takes the serious role of preventive audit or preventing funds from being disbursed improperly at source. The decision to procure follows purchasing procedures and there are just a few aspects that any auditor can manage: 1) Is the transaction authorized by an approved budget? 2) Is it endorsed by the qualified officials? 3) Are procedures followed in the procurement? 4) Have there been canvassing with duly accredited suppliers? 5) Has the purchase order been issued to the right supplier? And after all these have been done: 6) Have goods or services been delivered according to the specifications?

Of course, we could encounter some COA agents conniving or looking the other way. But if we let things happen the way they do and don’t care much about preventing them, corruption will continue.

We will never get rid of the endless cases of graft in our government if we do not prevent crime from happening. COA is the constitutional body with that mandate to be able to do it.

Hope springs eternal, we always look at the silver lining, instead of cursing the darkness.

[email protected]

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.


© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.