The Commission on Audit isn’t always the most popular government agency around, but as the spotlight is thrust upon them, it seems like the normally reserved auditors are stepping up.
Former COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, who served under President PNoy Aquino from 2011 to 2015, has been commenting in defense of her former agency, through media interviews, online talks, and through social media—both on her personal Facebook page and through Makwentang Makata, a page where Mendoza advocates for education on government spending, using “a light-hearted approach using poem to describe technical topics such as public accounting, budgeting, and auditing.” (That in itself is a story we’ll save for another day.)
Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s combative assertions the COA should not have released their reports to the public, Mendoza has repeatedly countered with her experienced views on the matter.
So when a fellow auditor wrote a post that has gone viral over the past couple of days defending Duterte’s statements, Mendoza was compelled to straighten him out.
“I am an AUDITOR by practice, and modesty aside, a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) by the Institute of Internal Auditors, Florida, USA,” the original post reads. “The President is right. In audit, our auditee has the right of reply and/or before issuing an audit report to the intended users, you have to discuss your audit observation first to the person subjected for audit…Hence, do not release a report to the public that is still at the ‘draft level’: some issues may be revised after the discussion.”
This post from Wednesday, August 17 has been widely shared online, presumably to show support for the administration’s stance.
Mendoza, who also served as United Nations Undersecretary General for the Office of Internal Oversight, posted her reply on Friday. “Hello to my fellow auditor,” Mendoza wrote, clarifying the process. “[T]he audit findings in an audit report have undergone a thorough process of review and discussion with Management. Nag issue muna ng Audit Observation, hiningi ang kanilang tugon, hiningan ng dokumento, nag exit conference bago saka ginawang final at inilagay sa Audit Report na naipost sa website.” (“An Audit Observation was first issued, their replies were solicited, documents were requested, there was an exit conference before the Audit Report was finalized and posted on the website.”)
Mendoza reiterated that “Audit Reports are for safeguarding resources, not for flogging nor accusing!” before issuing a double-tap coup de grâce: “Pahiram ng quote Jose Norman Lo. ‘By your words, I doubt if you abide by the oath of independence and objectivity for you simply choose to ignore facts.’ Peace. Ako yung guest speaker ninyo for several times, absent ka yata nun! Once in New York at last time naman sa Singapore.” (“I was your guest speaker several times, perhaps you were absent then!”)
In an online forum yesterday, Mendoza also addressed Duterte’s concerns. “I am not saying there was corruption. The president was right. But the increased compliance issues, increased accounting deficiencies—they lead to increased opportunities for corruption,” Mendoza said.