President Duterte is not stopping the Commission on Audit (COA) from doing its duty to look into how government agencies disburse public funds, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra clarified on Friday, Aug. 20.
Guevarra made the clarification after Duterte criticized COA over its report that flagged the P67.3-billion “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s (DOH) spending of funds allotted as part of the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The President as a lawyer fully understands the mandate of the COA as a constitutional body,” Guevarra said.
“I think his chief concern is on the way the COA’s preliminary findings are presented to the public and the impression that it leaves in the mind of the people prior to full compliance by the agency concerned,” he explained.
He said it is COA’s job to “regularly report its observations on a government agency’s compliance with standard auditing rules and regulations and with other regulatory processes such as in the procurement of goods and services.”
“The COA also makes observations on the utilization of government funds and resources at the disposal of the subject government agency,” he added.
On the other hand, Guevarra said “the matter of determining whether any deficiencies noted in the course of audit constitute a possible violation of law devolves upon other organs of the government.”
On their part, Guevara assured that “in general, government agencies exert a lot of effort to comply with numerous auditing rules and regulations, although they are often hampered by the tedious process of collating and submitting documents in support of each and every official transaction.”
“I understand that the COA recognizes this constraint and has expressed willingness to review and simplify its requirements, without sacrificing safeguards to promote efficiency, transparency, and accountability in government service,” he noted.