COA ignores presidential mockery anew

By Ben Rosario

The Commission on Audit has decided to ignore President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion to kidnap and torture state auditors.

MB FILE—Commission on Audit.

Duterte’s second public mockery of the state audit agency failed to prod COA into defending itself or hitting back at the chief executive although as an independent constitutional body, it has the power to do so.

“We have no comment on the matter,” said the COA Public Information Officer to requests for comment sought by reporters in connection with Duterte’s recent tirade against audit examiners.

However, former COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza viewed Duterte’s criticism as a proof that state auditors have “effectively and truthfully carried out its performance.”

Mendoza, currently Undersecretary General for the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight, posted the comment on her Facebook account.

“Ang pag-aawdit ay parang artistang kontrabida sa pelikula. Kung maraming nagagalit sa iyo, ibig sabihin ay epektibo at makatotohanan ang iyong pagganap,” said Mendoza. (Auditing is like playing the role of a villain in a movie. If there are more people who get angry with you, that means you have effectively and truthfully played your role)

She called on her Facebook friends to post her comments on their wall.

“Ang aming papel ay magbigay ng pagkakataon na maituwid, mapaganda, maiayos ang takbo ng paggamit ng pera ng bayan sa paraang may pananagutan at bukas sa pagpuna ng bawat mamamayan o lahat ng may pakialam,” Mendoza stated.

(Our role is to give way to a chance for an honest, better and correct manner of using government funds in a manner that there is accountability and open observation of each citizens and all who are concerned.”

Duterte drew flak from various sectors for advocating, although jokingly, violence against auditors.

“Ah putangina ‘yang COA na ‘yan. Letse kasi yung COA, everytime may mali talaga. Ano ba naman itong COA na ito? Kung magkidnap tayo ng taga-COA, lagay natin, i-torture natin dito, ‘tangina,” said Duterte told audiences during the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order on Sunday. “Ah, COA is a son of a bitch. For COA, there is always something wrong. What’s up with this COA? So, let’s kidnap those from COA, bring them here, torture them here,” he was quoted as saying.

On Sept 16 last year, Duterte chided CoA and suggested that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos “push” a COA auditor down the stairs “so he won’t report (the governor’s disallowances) anymore.”

Reacting to Duterte’s first attack against his agency, COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo quipped: “I just told the auditors, ‘avoid the stairs’.”

COA’s apparent expose of various irregularities in government transactions under the Duterte administration is being seen as the reason behind the chief executive’s gripe against auditors.

It will be recalled that the state agency found conflict of interest in the advertising transactions of Mr. Duterte’s Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo with the state-owned People’s Television Network, Inc.

Audit examiners have also found and reported on the Davao City government’s continued failure to clean up its payrolls of questionable contractual employees for the past three years since it first uncovered dubious hiring practices.

Auditors have also reported adverse findings in its audit of government expenditures by Davao City, including the recent personnel expenditures under Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter.

Various annual audit reports have also noted the failure of a number of government agencies to implement vital programs notwithstanding the availability of funding for such purposes.