"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Thursday, September 27, 2007

CoA chief walks out of Senate hearing, but returns, is sorry

MANILA, Philippines -- Chairman Guillermo Carague of the Commission on Audit has walked out of a hearing presided by Senator Richard Gordon, who instructed the Senate security force to bring him back.

Carague acquiesced, apologized, and hugged Gordon after his return, according to a transcript of the proceedings by the committee on government corporations and public enterprises that was released to media.

Carague suddenly lost his cool while debating with Gordon over issues on good governance, according to the transcript.

The hearing was on Senate measures that would review the financial and operational performance of government-owned and -controlled corporations, government financial institutions, state-owned universities, and other similar agencies, the document showed.

Gordon and Carague were discussing how CoA could help do this, particularly on the monitoring of funds to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where teachers have been complaining about the non-remittance of their contributions to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the transcript said.

Gordon wanted the CoA to go into ARMM to stop all the anomalies there. But Carague said it was not for CoA to do so. He said CoA’s website was “replete” with reports of anomalies, according to the document.

Gordon said CoA should go after government officials involved in these anomalies. But Carague retorted that his agency could only audit, according to the transcript.

“We now have about 10,000 people. We will need a 100,000 people if we are to initiate cases because our reports are replete with anomalies in many government agencies. You have to give us a 100,000 people, not just 10,000 people,” the CoA chief was quoted as saying.

Carague pointed out that as a management expert, he could not -- as suggested by Gordon -- hire 100,000 people. He said the government must be run by people who have integrity and honesty, and competence, the document showed.

Gordon felt that at this point, Carague was complaining and lecturing to him about the problems of government, prompting the CoA chief to leave. “I have to go now,” Carague said, according to the transcript.

But Gordon called for the Senate sergeant-at-arms to put Carague under contempt. “I don’t know why you’re hot-headed,” he said, according to the transcript.

“You are dictatorial,” Carague told Gordon, who by this time, is saying, “pahuli niyo yan [have him arrested],” according to the transcript.

Gordon thus ordered the Senate sergeant-at-arms to escort Carague back to the room, the transcript showed.

When Carague returned two minutes later, Gordon told him that he could not just leave the room without being allowed by the chairman. The senator also demanded that Carague apologize to him and the Senate as an institution, according to the transcript.

Carague then approached Gordon, who then suspended the proceedings and privately talked with the CoA chief, it said.

When Carague returned to his seat, he made a public apology and said he “respects [Gordon] and his track record as public servant,” according to the transcript.

Gordon said he was “surprised” by the walkout, but later brushed everything aside as a “misunderstanding” stemming from Carague being “overwrought with personal problems,” it said.

“I accept the apology. I have the highest respect for Mr. Carague,” the senator said, lifting the contempt order, it said.

By Veronica Uy

Last updated 06:37pm (Mla time) 09/27/2007


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