Palace: Duterte didn't threaten COA over flagging, he merely expressed frustration | Inquirer News
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Palace: Duterte didn’t threaten COA over flagging, he merely expressed frustration

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 02:31 PM August 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s harsh words against the Commission on Audit (COA) during his late-night public address were not threats but only a mere “expression of frustration,” Malacañang said Tuesday.

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the President is frustrated because the public automatically condemns government agencies when COA publishes its initial observations in its annual audit, thinking that there is already corruption.

He said government agencies are still given the opportunity to explain the COA’s findings, after which the agency will release its final report.

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“Ang sinasabi ni Presidente, frustrated siya kasi ang basa ng taumbayan sa initial observation ay mayroon nang condemnation eh hindi naman ganun ‘yung proseso kasi pati sa COA alam nila na initial observation sasagutin tapos saka sila magkakaroon ng final report,” Roque said.

(The President said he is frustrated because the public already has condemnations when it is only the initial observations of COA. The process is they will release initial observations, the agencies will answer, then COA will have a final report.)

“I don’t think he made any threats, he expressed frustrations,” he added.

In his public address late Monday night, Duterte told COA to stop flagging government transactions and publishing its report as they would taint agencies with “corruption by perception.”

“Stop that flagging, goddamnit. You make a report, do not flag. Do not publish it because it will condemn the agency or the person you are flagging,” Duterte said.

Roque said the President only wants to delay publishing COA’s annual findings until agencies have already answered.

“Siguro ang gustong mangyari ng Presidente, ‘wag muna isapubliko ang preliminary observations na hindi pa naman nasasagot ng mga ahensya,” he said.

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(Maybe what the President wants to happen is that COA should not yet publicize the preliminary observations when the agency has not answered yet.)

“Kasi kapag nalathala na sa media ‘yung preliminary observations para bagang nagkasala na yung ahensya,” he added.

(Because when this is reported by the media, the agency looks like it has already committed a crime.)

The COA earlier found “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s (DOH) management of P67.3-billion worth of funds for the country’s COVID-19 response.

The DOH then said it is addressing the deficiencies marked by COA.

It also maintained that it has exerted efforts to effectively implement provisions of the two Bayanihan laws, “more particularly those health responses in this time of a state of calamity or national emergency amidst varying challenges.”

Duque likewise assured all transactions of the DOH are accounted for and documented, pointing out that, otherwise, officials and employees would go to jail.

The COA later clarified that its report did not mention findings linked to corruption.

“The report itself does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost to corruption,” COA said in a statement.

COA added that the report also comes with recommendations for the DOH to address the findings — part of the audit process allowing the concerned agency to comply and rectify any shortcomings.

In his public address, Duterte has seemingly cleared the DOH of alleged corruption related to the said “deficiencies,” saying that these only mean incomplete paperwork.

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TAGS: COA, duterte, frustration, harsh words, Palace
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