Case details of erring COA workers ought to be published–Duterte

Published August 31, 2021, 9:19 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

If President Duterte would have his way, he would see to it that details of the criminal charges filled against Commission on Audit (COA) personnel would get published, stressing that those from that agency can commit “sins” as well.

President Rodrigo Duterte oversees the “Talk to the People” public briefing on Monday night, Aug. 30, 202. (Screenshot from Facebook live)

During the Tuesday, Aug. 31 airing of the latest “Talk to the People” public briefing from Malacañang, Duterte lamented over media’s tendency to “destroy” government agencies on the basis of a COA audit report.

“Alam mo, marami ring nademanda sa COA (You know, a lot of people from COA also get sued),” he told vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who was at the briefing along with fellow Cabinet members.

“Karamihan niyan bribery and falsification na kung may tulungan sila na isang government ano treasurer, auditor, tuturuan nila ‘yan kung paano gawin para malusot (Most of those cases are for bribery and falsification that take place whenever they help out a government treasurer, auditor, they teach them what to do in order to escape detection),” revealed Duterte, a former Davao City prosecutor.

“So not everybody here is really without sin. Ganoon ‘yan (That’s how it is),” he added.

However, the President quickly realized that there’s a legal impediment to the publication of such information. “So dapat ‘yung kanila, iyon ‘yung mga kaso sa ano sa Ombudsman, dapat i-publish din (So their cases from the Ombudsman should also be published). But there’s a law which says that you cannot do that and we should respect that because that is for everybody.”

Turning again to Galvez, Duterte gave this suggestion: “But kayo (you), on your own, why don’t you publish the number of criminal cases filed against employees of the auditing office, itong (this) GAO – General Auditing Office involving corruption also? Mas masahol ‘yang ano kasi — eh bribery eh. Tinutulungan pa ninyo mag-falsify, mag-fraud (That is even worse because–it’s bribery. And there are helping them with falsification and fraud).”

For several weeks now, Duterte’s late night press briefings have featured rants against COA, which he has faulted for the spread of supposed premature new items regarding “anomalies” in government agencies with regard their spending.

The recent news items have been based on COA’s 2020 audit report, which are rather discreetly posted in tranches on the its website. It’s usually up to journalists to check the COA website for updates since it almost never issues press releases.

The headline-grabbing reports on the COA audit findings have led to the conduct of public inquiries by lawmakers, including the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Duterte has criticized the particular panel‘s conduct of its investigation on the COA “flagging” issue.