Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to relax its pre-audit rules, but only during times of major calamities and emergencies, to expedite the government’s relief operation in areas affected by these crises.
Barzaga, the National Unity Party (NUP) vice president, noted the delays in the delivery of aid to victims of the recent super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that separately hit the Visayas region, reportedly due to several requirements imposed by COA.
“There should be no pre-audit. COA should not have any participation in the disbursement of calamity funds much more demand the names of the beneficiaries. Their constitutional duty is to conduct regular audit after the end of the regular year,” Barzaga said.
Barzaga issued the statement in a recent media interview following reports that COA has been requiring the agency’s inventory and inspection of relief goods coming from the government before distributing them, as well as for donors and relief agencies to list down the names of their designated beneficiaries.
A fellow lawmaker, Rep. Rodel Batocabe said the requirements were impractical given the urgency of the situation during emergencies.
“In times of dire need and emergency, we cannot expect anyone to list beneficiaries. Once everything normalizes, then we can list beneficiaries,” said Batocabe of the Ako Bicol partylist.
Ako Bicol is among the partylist allies of the NUP under the Coalition for Peace and Development.
Other legislators echoed the concerns raised by Barzaga and Batocabe. Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap said it would be nearly impossible for COA to check all the beneficiaries given the extent of the destruction caused by the successive calamities which struck the country this year, while Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said the COA can ensure accountability without hindering relief operations.