President Duterte has asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to cut the government some slack as it faced challenges while battling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying they should release its report at least at the end of the year.
Duterte made the statement after COA cited deficiencies in the 2020 spendings of different agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
In his pre-recorded public address aired Saturday morning, August 21, the President said while his sentiments were not personal, COA should give concerned agencies and officials a chance to answer and sufficient time to come up with required documents because of the crisis.
“Ongoing ito, adre. So you do not conduct unnecessarily yung mga audit na audit na ongoing pa (audits of programs that are still ongoing),” he said.
“We are fighting a pandemic. Do you know what is pandemic is? It’s the tallest on the ladder sa mga sakit… Lahat nagsa-suffer (of sickness… Everyone suffers),” he added.
“Give us enough elbow room to move because what you’re asking is not really easy to come out with,” he continued.
Duterte said coming up with the documentation required by COA was also a challenge since government offices or working on a skeletal workforce.
“You need to have the list and everything. Alam mo (You know), you have to validate it. Yung validation with the so many thousands, you cannot just come up with a list that is final in one day or two days,” he said.
“Hindi lahat ng empleyado ninyo nagrereport… Tapos papasok ka in the middle of the battle. Patapusin mo muna at least until the end of the year bago kayo pumasok. Suggestion ko lang ‘yan (Not everyone reports for work… And then you enter in the middle of the battle. Let it finish first or at least wait until the end of the year before you come it. This is just a suggestion),” he added.
The President said he has no problem with COA reports being public but said auditors should begin with a caveat that their fundings did not necessarily mean that there was corruption involved.
“Alam ko walang malisya (I know there is no malice). You are doing your duty but in making your report, kindly reconfigure everything. Sabihin sa una (State), at the first instance… ‘There is no corruption here, there is no money involved,'” he suggested.
He added that ordinary people would think that the deficiencies COA cited in their reports were due to corruption.
“So we have to correct that perception because it will destroy the faith of the people in government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte alleged that those criticizing the government based on audit reports were being paid.
“Those unnecessarily making a hay out of this, binabayaran naman (they are being paid),” he said.
“No one would unnecessarily go out of his way, commentator man o reporter, tapos magsulat ng ganun, bayad ‘yan (and then write something like that. They are paid),” he added.