Wednesday, November 05, 2008

COA, the press, and good governance

We have, in this space, shared a series of interesting incidents in local governance through the regular reports of the Commission on Audit (COA).
When I was handed copies of COA reports, it has been a feeling of bitter-sweet.
It is sweet to see that the COA reports are a “goldmine,” in terms of trying to see how governance can be improved, particularly in trying to plug the loopholes to prevent taxpayers money from being unnecessarily drained.
At the same time, it is bitter to read how our hard-earned taxes have been wasted and illegally disbursed by public servants who have been entrusted to take care of public funds.
Public funds, we have discovered, have been funneled to what we call "bubble-gang disbursements", illegally channeled to private purposes.
We have seen innovative ways to divert public funds away from intended purposes.
It is sickening.
Nevertheless, we have noticed that the COA reports we have been furnished so far have been sincerely attempting to promote good governance, and the proper handling of the peoples’ funds.
Unfortunately, the COA recommendations have fallen on deaf ears.
The illegal activities (read: corruption) continue unabated.
We cannot let the moment pass without thanking our tireless COA personnel, commnedable public servants, who have been trying to correct what is wrong with government.
This is not an easy task, considering the political pressures that come with the job.
This is not to say that the COA is totally insulated from the creeping claws of corruption.
We have also seen certain COA personnel and officers (not in Negros Oriental) who have yielded to worldly desires, and who have succumb to the charms of corruption.
You can easily see when a COA report is tainted with corruption because the report “sees-no-evil” and “hears-no-evil”. Thus we "read-no-evil."
A corrupted COA report is like pornography.
You know it when you see it.
But not the COA reports we have read so far.
That is why we, in the media have been willing instruments and collaborators with the COA in pursuit of good governance.
We are willing to be disseminators to the public of official COA findings, so that the people will know how their hard earned taxes are being used and spent, or misspent (like for nose repair).
We in the press will continue to do our share in exercising vigilance because we feel and we know that people don't want their tax money wasted.
Our role as disseminators of information on matters of public concern is well defined.
COA audits. Media reports.
Our hope is that the public too, will do their share in exercising vigilance over the affairs of government.
COA alone cannot do it.
Media alone cannot do it.
But together, as a people, we can help build a better government.

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