Belmonte calls for creation of public accounts and audit committee

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Monday, July 28, 2014

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called the committee on rules on Monday to study the creation of a public accounts and audit committee amid cases filed against members of Congress over alleged misuse of government funds.

The committee would have jurisdiction to call and hold to account all national government agencies, local government units, government owned and control corporations and other instrumentalities for their use of their public funds, the House leader said during his speech at the 16th Congress' second regular session.

(Video by John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

"Resting on the power of the legislative oversight, I am directing the committee on rules to study the creation of a public accounts and audit committee," Belmonte added.

Several members of Congress who allegedly benefited from the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) have been mentioned in the affidavit of businesswoman Janet Napoles, the scam's alleged mastermind.

The Office of the Ombudsman has charged three senators with plunder and multiple counts of graft while several others are under investigation.

Belmonte said he reviewed a number of Commission on Audit (COA) reports in connection with the alleged PDAF misuse and he found out that there are a large number of audit recommendations that are not implemented, or are only partially implemented.

He also said that a significant number of audit reports result only in qualified or disclaimer opinions.

"These indicate possible misuse of public funds and inefficient public spending. This should concern us, as representatives of the people, since we gave government the authority to collect tax money from them whom we swore to serve," Belmonte said.

He said a year-round committee-based oversight agenda will transform Congress into an effective horizontal accountability mechanism in the system of government that will able to conduct early detection of waste, fraud, and mismanagement, as well as institute remedial measures against acts of malfeasance in government.

"With the committee system as our spearhead beyond budget deliberations, every committee must now chart an oversight plan of action over departments, agencies and entities whose mandates fall within their respective jurisdictions," he said.

President Benigno Aquino III will submit this week the proposed 2015 national budget for the approval of Congress. (Sunnex)

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