Letter to the Editor
On 15 February 2011, the President (through presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda) underscored the importance of appointing a person with integrity and a clean track record as chairman of the Commission on Audit (COA). We could not agree more. However, the person being appointed is as important as the process by which he or she was appointed.
Recent revelations by former COA auditor and expert witness in the Garcia trial, Heidi Mendoza, has highlighted the need for reforms in the supreme audit institution. As President Aquino knows, reforms start from the very top. Ever since the retirement of Aniano Desierto as Ombudsman in 2002, the Transparency and Accountability Network has pushed for open and transparent appointment processes to the independent accountability institutions such as the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court, the Commission on Elections, the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Audit. Good appointments should happen by design, not by accident. The only way this can happen is if the process is transparent and accountable. We urge President Aquino, in the name of good governance, transparency and accountability to conduct the search for the next chairman of the Commission on Audit and two commissioners for the Comelec in an open and inclusive process.
Specifically, for appointments to these and other independent accountability institutions, we urge the President to make known to the public the composition of any internal search committee that screens candidates, the set of criteria being used to evaluate candidates, and the names of the individuals or groups endorsing such candidates.
One of the biggest problems of the previous administration was the highly politicized nature of appointments made to these independent accountability institutions. President Arroyo’s last high profile appointment made in the waning days of her term was arguably the most controversial: the midnight appointment of the chief justice of the Supreme Court during an appointment ban. Without transparency and accountability in the process, President Aquino may be headed down the same treacherous path as his predecessor.
We hope that this time the public will get what it rightfully deserves – men and women of integrity and competence appointed in an open and accountable process.
Vincent T. Lazatin
Transparency and Accountability Network