Saying that the country’s elected vice president is not mandated to audit government agencies, Vice President Leni Robredo laughed off President Duterte’s claims that he will audit the Commission on Audit (COA) once elected to the second-highest post in 2022.
Instead, Robredo said that the government’s anti-corruption drive must begin at the country’s highest office—the Office of the President (OP).
“Ang pinakaimportanteng office para at least mabawasan iyong corruption, iyong (The most important office to at least lessen corruption is the) Office of the President,” she said during her Sunday radio show.
She laughed at the President’s claims that he will audit COA when he wins the vice presidential race next year, a decision he recently announced to purportedly continue his programs against drugs and corruption.
“Iyong mandato ng VP succession lang (The mandate of the VP is only succession),” Robredo said.
Robredo explained that she was just “creative” in finding ways to help the country despite not having a clear Constitutional mandate except for succession and the meager resources that her office receives from the present administration.
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) received a measly P900-million budget for 2021.
She has transformed the OVP into an advocacy-driven office through her anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay. She has been at the frontline of her office’s COVID-19 response programs—Bayanihan E-Konsulta, Swab Cab, Vaccine Express, and Community Mart, among others.
Robredo said that the role of COA, which recently earned the ire of the President for flagging numerous government agencies for billions of pesos worth of “deficiencies” in managing funds, is protected in the Constitution.
“Bakit nakalagay siya sa isang (Why is it in a) Constitutional body? Para may (So they have) independence. Hindi napapakialamanan ng ibang (They cannot be meddled into by other) branches of government. Iyong mandato nasa COA (COA has the mandate),” she stressed.
If the present administration is committed to its supposed anti-corruption drive, the vice president said there are other ways to show this instead of running after the state auditors.
In particular, she highlighted the need to be transparent about one’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), a document Duterte has refused to make public. The media receives a copy of Robredo’s SALN annually upon request.
“Iyong SALN, isa iyon sa napakalaking dahilan para ipakita mo na bukas iyong lahat ng information tungkol sa akin na pagpapakita na walang korapsyon (The SALN, that’s one of the biggest proof for you to show that all information about me shows there is no corruption),” she said.
“Iyong (The) COA audit report ng mga opisina, ano iyon pagpapakita iyon na sumusunod tayo sa lahat ng patakaran (of the offices, that’s showing that we are following procedures). Assessment iyon ng COA na walang corruption na nangyayari (of COA that there is no corruption happening),” she added.
Robredo also hinted that if there are people around you who are corrupt, it will be hard to believe that you don’t know about such activities.
“Ang dami mong pwedeng gawin eh (You can do a lot of things [to show your anti-corruption drive]),” she said.