Duterte statement vs. COA not a threat, says Palace


Malacañang on Tuesday denied that President Rodrigo Duterte threatened the Commission on Audit (COA) for releasing an audit report that put the Department of Health (DOH) in bad light.

At a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte just "expressed frustration" at COA for flagging the DOH amid its efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't think he made threats; he expressed frustration," Roque said.

"Wala pong issue 'yon. I guess ang sinasabi lang ni Presidente, frustrated siya kasi ang basa ng taongbayan sa initial observations may condemnation," he added.

(The President does not take issue with COA doing its job. He was just saying that he is frustrated because the public viewed COA's initial observations on DOH with condemnation.)

Duterte, during his public address late Monday night, slammed COA over its report flagging the DOH for deficiencies in use of P67.3 billion in pandemic funds.

"Stop that flagging, goddamnit. You make a report, do not flag. Do not publish it because it would condemn the agency or person that you are flagging," the President had said.


Lawmakers, however, said no one can stop a constitutional body like COA from performing its mandate.

Article 9 of the Philippine Constitution provides that COA "has the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities."

Likewise, the Philippine Constitution states that "COA has exclusive authority to define the scope of its audit and examination, establish the techniques and methods required therefor, and promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations, including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties."

In addition, the 1987 Charter reads that "[n]o law shall be passed exempting any entity of the Government or its subsidiary in any guise whatever, or any investment of public funds, from the jurisdiction of the COA."

In a statement last week, COA said it never mentioned in its 2020 audit report that corruption attended the DOH's use of its budget amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to COA, the audit process for flagged deficiencies had yet to be completed.   —KBK, GMA News