A system to make us honest PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 02 October 2011 14:57

By REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO

When one tries to do his/her  work in the best way possible and yet does not produce the expected outcome, what is that supposed to mean?

One, it can mean that the “best” that is being done is not good enough. Two, it can also mean that there is something not quite right with the way the thing is being done – or there is a need to look at the process being carried out.

These considerations have come to mind after reading all the huge losses of money connected with a number of government offices. The PCSO. The ACEF. The Dept of Agriculture in the fertilizer scam. The Pagcor. The Office of the President under Pres. Arroyo. The AFP. The amounts involved in the scandals that have come to the surface since the Aquino administration are staggering. Amounts  not in a couple of thousands but in the millions. Two offices have to explain sums at least two billion in amount.

One worrying thing is that these have to do with amounts that cannot be accounted for.  Are there any more just waiting to be unearthed?

I am not saying that the COA is responsible for these huge losses. No, not at all. But I do raise the question of why these things are just coming out into the open if we have the COA that is supposed to look over the shoulders of a department’s or office’s  yearly  reports of  the financial transactions of that office.  What good is an audit of an office if the audit report comes out months (years?) after the financial period being audited is over , and in some cases when the responsible individual is no longer in the position? A good example is the report that several millions for the travel expenses of the Office of the President have not been liquidated for the year 2007. How is that possible? And what was the accountant for the office doing to earn his/her salary?

Senator Drilon was a bit perturbed when he learned that some P900 million were spent for travel of Pres. Arroyo during a year when the approved budget for this item was only P200 million or so? Even someone who is poor in arithmetic will know that there is a significant difference between 900 million and 200 million. I suppose one factor we can look at in this particular example is our Filipino trait of being very deferential to someone with a high position. Indeed, who is to tell the president that she has exceeded her budget for travel by some 700 million pesos and should not travel any longer?

The report in the papers also said that there was no way the list of people travelling with the president on her several trips indicated who were officially in the travel entourage and who were simply tag alongs. How lucky for those “unofficial” members but how sad for the Filipino public, which winds up footing the bills.

We really need to look closely at how we do things in our country. We cannot presume that everyone is honest enough or noble enough to want to do things the right way all the time, whether they are COA auditors, or senators/congressmen,  or presidents. The system itself should make them honest most of the time.