Unfinished and urgent business: Trial of named elected officials in the COA audit reports

The Filipino public need to understand that the audit reports, signed off by no less than State auditors/CPAs, are formal and strong evidence of fraudulent practices and financial irregularities.  Audit reports, depending on type, may include findings of how the fraudster set up the fraud scheme, and which controls, if any, were circumvented as well as recommendations such as  improvements to internal controls to prevent any similar frauds occurring in the future.  No less than audit reports are used when filing fraud cases in court.  So there is no reason why the legal process, the standard next step after the audit, that would look into the fraud and corruption of billions of taxes by elected members of the Senate and Congress should not be happening. Now.  The trial should not be conducted by the Senate whose many members as the report reveals are named in the fraud.  Otherwise this will only corrupt/color the administration of justice (as what the Filipino public is made to witness many times over in the recent past).  If it pushes through, I will not recognize the verdict of this Senate body not to mention that it will be another failure of promised reform.  The trial should be conducted by a competent, independent and impartial body, if not the court.  Let us not forget that serious fraud is a crime.

Why should fraud and corruption be a concern at all?  The FBI says it well

It’s our top priority among criminal investigations—and for good reason.

Public corruption poses a fundamental threat to our national security and way of life. It impacts everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads, schools, and other government services. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, wasting billions in tax dollars every year.

Our country places trust in its public servants, and this trust is only as good as the integrity of those who serve.

The Commission On Audit has already made public its audit reports on the PDAF management and went so far as publicly naming the elected officials who were found out during its audit.  The legal process should’ve immediately proceeded it (with or without the promise of the President, because these things are standard) because the trial is not dependent on the scrapping of the pork barrel or PDAF.  Also the process can stand alone without Janet Napoles because it wasn’t Napoles who was audited by COA.  Another case should be filed against her and her group of fly by night NGOs who have given legit NGOs and NGO workers in the country a bad name.  NGO workers sacrifice a lot (many chose to be assigned in dangerous and forgotten places even when they could very well afford to privately live in security and comfort) in the name of mission of making the world, this country a better place – yes the hope still rings loud and real for these workers – which obviously wasn’t what Napoles and her group had in mind.

What is the rule in the Senate and Congress for members who are being criminally investigated?  If it is suspension from office, that should be what we’re listening to now. Of course the named elected officials have the right to do whatever they can to clear their names, that they are innocent until. The elected officials named in the COA reports should each be able to do an accounting of the PDAF under their names. They can then be questioned on all the rest because it is an open secret that the initial COA report is just the surface of a systemic pillage of public funds. For those unable to establish innocence, the courts would know what to deal them with. Philippine courts also infamous for corrupt practices would have to think a thousand times over if it is wise to do another Houdini on this high-profile case given the obvious strength of the facts before them.

Elected officials’ abuse of their position and their audacious and continuing pillage of public funds (e.g. publicly attributing themselves with the scholarships they give out of the PDAF when in fact these funds are the people’s taxes; they don’t stop there but further use the young people/scholars in their publicity stunts) are boulders in the way of the country’s political maturity and economic growth and progress.  In addition, the fact that these elected officials can walk away free and continue in public office despite their guilt not only ridicules the country’s laws and the people who have put them into power but also demoralizes the nation. Theft is theft. But the theft of public funds by members of Congress and the Senate through schemes that only someone as convoluted and bold as the devil can conceive? Unspeakable.


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