A probe held recently by a Commission on Audit team did not follow proper procedures and violated the Constitutional rights of Negros Occidental provincial government personnel questioned, Provincial Legal Officer Jose Ma. Valencia said yesterday.
Valencia said the COA team was looking into the provincial government's purchase of cows and sheep, the Negros First Ranch property in Murcia, Negros Occidental, and the building of shed houses there based on an apparent case lodged by a certain Carlos Padilla.
“During the entrance conference with the governor we were of the belief in the discussion that it was a regular audit and we voluntarily cooperated”, Valencia said.
Valencia said he even told the COA team that the documents they were asking for had already undergone COA review and there were already findings.
In fact the original documents are in COA storage, he added.
“I was appointed to be the team leader on the part of the province, but I allowed personnel of the province to talk freely with them,” Valencia said.
Later on he learned that the provincial government personnel being questioned by the team were already being apprised of their rights under the Miranda doctrine, and it was only then did he got a copy of their office order stating that they were sent to Negros pursuant to the inquisitorial and investigative powers of the COA en banc, Valencia said.
They can only exercise that power if a case is filed before the commission, he said.
Valencia said he wrote the COA saying “that they had not informed us that there is case, and they had violated our Constitutional right that we should be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against us.”
“When they got my letter they just cleared up and left,” Valencia said, adding that the COA team had stayed in Negros Occidental for about a week.*CPG
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