Senate tells COA: We’ve been transparent


    THE Senate yesterday maintained it has been transparent in all of its public undertakings and has been fully compliant with the requirements set under the Transparency Seal, as it took exception to a report of the Commission on Audit (COA) stating otherwise.

    In a statement, the Senate Secretariat said it has been consistent in fully disclosing the necessary data related to the Senate’s budget, expenses, contracts, major projects, and performance indicators in its website, which it said is regularly updated.

    “The Senate of the Philippines has complied with the requirements of the Transparency Seal. In reply to the previous COA Audit observation, the Senate Finance Bureau said in its Memorandum dated June 29, 2020 that financial documents have been posted on the Senate website. The website shows posting for the periods 2015-2019,” said the Senate secretariat, which is led by Senate Secretary Myra Villarica.

    According to the Senate website, the Senate Secretary assists the Senate President in extending adequate and timely legislative and administrative support to the offices of senators. He/she likewise exercises supervision and control over all the offices of the service units and officers and employees of the Secretariat. He/she formulates plans, policies and programs aimed at professionalizing the institution.

    The Senate secretariat issued the statement after a COA 2019 report released to the public on Wednesday chided the Senate and said that its Transparency Seal was not updated, and is therefore not compliant with the government’s advocacy of enhancing transparency and accountability in public service.

    The same COA report said the Senate’s Transparency Seal only contained minimum information about its mandate and functions, name and designation of officials, and a five-year old breakdown of its 2014 budget.

    Likeswise, it said the Senate withheld information on the current approved budget and corresponding targets, the Annual Procurement Plan, and contracts awarded with the names of winning suppliers, contractors or consultants, major activities and projects and target beneficiaries, status of implementation of the said programs.

    The Senate Secretariat said it will update its website as soon as all information for the current year is available.

    “Latest financial records are current as of December 2019 and the Senate will be continuously updating postings of required documents per schedule,” it added.