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Uy’s timely proposal

When she served as mayor of Viilanueva town in my home province of Misamis Oriental, I wanted to interview her in my radio program but was unable to much to my regret.

Yet even then as program anchor, I heard stories of then mayor Juliette-Uy implementing substantial programs for her constituents in Villanueva like the town gym for example.

Villanueva's economy then was prospering thanks to the entry of Steag there. Flash forward to the millennium and I was pleasantly surprised to learn through Inquirer.net that Rep. Juliette-Uy of Misamis Oriental's 2nd district proposed a state audit summit for the country's government.

It's inspiring to know that some of our lawmakers in the province are making substantial contributions for the country's betterment like Uy. Her proposal to conduct a state audit summit to amend the country's existing State Audit Code is relevant to help keep both our elected and appointed government officials in check.

Uy said the code  badly needs updating to make it more responsive to the socio-political and economic realities of the time and I couldn't agree more. In a sense it would help the Ombudsman deal with and dispense with greater efficiency graft cases filed against officials who failed to comply with stringent state audit and procurement rules.

The State Administrative  Code of 1987 was last amended not by Congress but by way of an Executive Order of the late president Corazon Aquino. 

The best laws especially if codified are those that are reliable and stand the test of time.  That said there is no doubt that changes are inevitable as society's needs evolve in response to its immediate environment and beyond its borders.

And if public needs need immediate resolution, oftentimes local officials have to bend, not break the rule book. If a certain flexibility isn't allowed, public welfare will be neglected.

A case in point is the cases filed against Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno at the Ombudsman. The basis for the cases against him stems from his alleged failure to comply with bidding rules for leasing equipment to repair existing roads and construct new, farm-to-market roads during his tenure as Misamis Oriental governor.

His accusers use a state audit report as basis for contention, though Moreno argued that his constituents' need for better roads cannot be hamstrung by government audit rules.

Without the audit report there would be no basis to file charges against Moreno at the Ombudsman. This is not to say that we should allow loopholes in our audit rules for errant local officials to exploit to their advantage.  

Still, strict and inflexible audit rules can be used by lazy officials to justify their inability to implement projects for their constituents. They will use as alibi the presence of bureaucratic red tape that ties their hands and makes them hesitant to expedite the sourcing of funds and implementation of their projects lest they face charges in court.

On another front, any public official may consider as a badge of courage any charges that may be filed against them for bypassing audit rules in favor of expediting projects

Skirting or willfully ignoring these audit rules will make them look good to their constituents who see him/her as being unafraid and even creative enough not to be constrained by such rules for the sake of giving them their projects. 

Speaking of which Uy is a member of the House committee on the revision of laws and her proposal for a state audit summit is impressive. I join others to persuade her to file a resolution for a government audit reform summit.

This summit should be jointly convened by the legislative executive development advisory council (LEDAC), the national government and the Commission on Audit.

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