The budget for the Office of Governance Accountability Review (OGAR) has hurdled the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s (SP) approval amid a battery of questions from lawmakers on the newly established office.
Members of the SP, during the legislative body’s regular session on Tuesday, approved a budget of P8 million for the OGAR, lower by P8 million to its original proposal of P15 million for professional fees and other expenses.
“Overall, na reduce man pud ang atong NTA (National Tax Allotment) so, many adjustments are made, mao na on the part of the OGAR, ang original unta na P12 million para sa contracts for professional services was decreased by P7 million kay gibalik didto sa Office of the Governor,” said Atty. Handel Lagunay who defended the OGAR’s budget before the SP.
Lagunay named former prosecutor Macario Delusa, retired Regional Trial Court judge Suceso Arcamo, and social media influencer Willy Ramasola as among those who will receive compensation for their services under OGAR.
Meanwhile, former Tagbilaran City mayor Dan Lim, former Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. and retired Court of Appeals justice Gabriel T. Ingles will offer their services for free.
Based on the executive order issued by Governor Aris Aumentado, the OGAR is tasked to investigate anomalous transactions during the previous administrations or those that were executed before July 1, 2022.
The investigation is reportedly intended to zero in on transactions under the administration of former Governor Art Yap, the immediate past governor who had been hounded by allegations of corruption during his term in office.
However, no charges have been filed against him for alleged anomalies as chief executive.
In an interview with the media after the SP session, Lagunay explained that there is no redundancy in the OGAR’s role, countering the claim of SP Member Benjie Arcamo, who is the vice chairman of the Committee on Finance, Budget and Appropriations.
According to Lagunay, the OGAR’s functions will be “complementary” to the mandates of the Commission on Audit and Provincial Internal Audit Office.
“Sa past administration, dili pa man pud tanan naa na ni-agi sa COA. Naa may uban na bid out sa past administration pero ongoing pa ang past transactions, naa pa ganiy mga claims for payments na gihimi so pwede pa na tan-awon sa OGAR,” said Lagunay.
Lagunay also noted that conclusiveness of COA findings is not absolute.
“Kadtong mga naagi na pud sa COA, just because na tan-aw nana sa COA wa mana magpasabot na that’s the end of the story kay danghan man mga anggulo on a particular transaction. You have to look at the big picture,” he added.
The OGAR can also follow-up the findings of the Provincial Internal Audit Office and add on the investigative powers of the SP, which is only limited to executing such activity in aid of legislation.
Meanwhile, the OGAR is not limited as it can institute legal actions and file complaints against violators based on their investigation. (A. Doydora)