PBBM must shake up DA (3)

Before I proceed to the third episode on the problem in the Department of Agriculture, allow me to issue a brief commentary on the sudden reemergence of the chaotic fund disbursement system and practices of the Department of Budget and Management in its procurement service, which may result in losses in public funds allotted for critical government programs and projects.

This problem, if not resolved on time, will constitute a menace to the interest of the local government units because no funds may reach them.

The Mandanas-Garcia ruling may not fully take effect and the devolution of basic functions and services will not be fully implemented. There is now a crisis caused by the PS-DBM.

Senator Imee Marcos is correct in recommending its abolition. (Commentary thereon will be continued this coming Thursday.)

Meanwhile, let us give credit to the saving grace of the Commission on Audit in its audit of the accounts and financial operations of the DA in the calendar years 2010 to 2016.

The saving graces of CoA are its rank and file: The supervising auditors, the audit team leaders, and their staff.

Without fear and favor, they issued disclaimers and adverse opinions on the fairness of the presentation of the financial statements of DA for five calendar years, as of 31 December of those years.

According to them, due to the materiality of the misstatements in some accounts, the financial statements did not present fairly the financial position of the DA as of 31 December of those five calendar years and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the years then ended, contrary to applicable generally accepted accounting principles.

The supervising auditors and audit team leaders assigned by CoA in DA were able to determine the main causes of the failure of the government to achieve its goals: Self-sufficiency in corn and rice production and improved food security for the people. Because of corruption, the government programs for irrigation, fertilizers, and farm-to-market roads were a total disarray of breakdowns, shortages, and abandoned projects along farmlands with dismayed rural folks with too less to work on and too little to harvest.

The supervising auditors have unearthed two crises: The crisis in the DA and the crisis in the PS-DBM. In both crises, the chaotic fund disbursement system and practices of the DBM are involved.

DBM’s chaotic system may have resulted in the misuse and loss of at least a trillion pesos in public funds allotted for critical programs and projects from 2010 to 2021.

Fiscal experts suspect that there is still an entrenched syndicate in the DBM that requires a complete overhaul of its budgetary, fund allocation, and disbursement system. In PS, the involvement of DBM is definite. Through its disclosure of these huge anomalies in DA and PS, CoA has vindicated itself from its debacle in the PDAF audit report of 2013.

President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr., in his First State of the Nation Address on 24 January 1966, said the crisis strengthens the interdependence between Congress and the Executive. Both are bound together.

Congress is the seat of reason and the Executive is the seat of the power of the will. Reason without a will is impotent. Both are bound together to be “reasonably effective.” Senator Imee Marcos is recommending the abolition of the procurement service; former Senate President Tito Sotto is recommending the prosecution of PS-DBM officials; still, others are recommending its removal from the Office of the DBM Secretary. All of these are possible if the presidency exercises its will by referring to the recommendations for appropriate action of the CoA chairperson, Jose C. Calida, who had a hundred percent performance in the removal of government officials through quo warranto when he was Solicitor General. As CoA chairperson, he has a new firepower, Section 46 of Presidential Decree 1445.

(To be continued)

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