QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Rodrigo Duterte vowed to withdraw if the Commission on Audit (COA) can prove he stole or misused funds of the Davao City government.
“Hahamunin ko COA mismo. Magsabi ka isang piso nawala, magwithdraw ako bukas,” said Duterte during a campaign sortie on Friday, March 18.
(I challenge COA itself. Prove even just one peso is missing, I will withdraw tomorrow.)
The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay brought up the findings of a 2014 annual COA report saying the Davao City government may have misused P46 million of the Special Education Fund. The COA report was released in June 2015.
But Duterte had his own challenge for Binay: fix your own backyard.
“Binay, maski isang piso lang nawala sa siyudad ko, wi-withdraw ako. Ngayon hamunin kita. Yung propaganda mo, naghahanap ka lang ng damay kasi ikaw talaga ang makukulong. Ngayon hahamunin kita, bilyon-bilyon yung nanakaw mo, magwithdraw tayong dalawa ngayon,” he said during a speech.
(Binay, if even one peso is missing in my city, I will withdraw. Now, I challenge you. Your propaganda is just because you want someone to commiserate with, because you will end up in jail. Now, I challenge you, you stole billions, let’s withdraw together now.)
Duterte to Binay: Naghahanap ka lang ng karamay kasi ikaw talaga ang makukulong. #PHVoteDuterte #PHVoteBinay pic.twitter.com/01x39yqgjI— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) March 18, 2016
Notwithstanding the challenge, Duterte refuted the supposed findings of the COA.
He admitted that the P46 million was used to pay for the transportation of Davao City student athletes and their coaches. This was the COA’s finding as well.
WATCH: Duterte explains how P46-M of SEF was used in 2014. Says it was still used for school activities, sports. pic.twitter.com/dJQhXAX9BL— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) March 18, 2016
But the COA report also said that according to the law that created the SEF, the fund can only be used for the following: improving school facilities, printing and acquiring books and other school materials, paying salaries of public school teachers, granting scholarships, and promoting physical education.
Any other activity, unless authorized by law, cannot be funded by the SEF.
Whatever the COA’s findings, Duterte said they are not enough to prove he stole money or abused the funds.
“Maybe COA has reservations. Kasi ang funds daw ginamit daw ng school board superintendent ‘to, yung pamasahe sa mga kids (The funds were supposedly used by the school board superintendent for the transportation of the kids). As long as it is connected with the education and sports of the young people, maski ako, I will let them,” he said.
Duterte blasted Binay for accusing him of corruption when the Vice President himself has not yet categorically refuted cases citing his involvement in the overpricing of a Makati City parking building. Binay was mayor of Makati City when the building began construction.
“Davao City is not Makati City. Duterte is not Binay…Walang makating kamay sa amin (No one in Davao has itchy fingers),” said Duterte.
WATCH: Duterte hits Binay camp for bringing up old COA report on alleged misuse of educ funds by Davao City. #PHVote pic.twitter.com/gyC0oXpyIw— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) March 18, 2016
The Mindanaoan presidential bet said he may just ask the opposition party standard-bearer a question about corruption during the Commission on Elections presidential debate to be held on Sunday, March 20.
“They opened the issue of corruption. Might as well talk about it openly with the Filipino people,” he said.
Duterte’s running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, also cautioned the public about interpreting COA findings. He said that the COA having reservations about how local governments use their funds is not the same as the COA reporting the funds were stolen.
“We senators, when we talked to COA, we told them to be clear when they make a report, when they say funds were stolen or went missing. When you say, in your opinion, the funds were not used properly, that’s debatable,” Cayetano told reporters.
“In fact, many times, the court has overturned COA on the proper use of LGU funds. So the money wasn’t stolen, there were no anomalies,” he added.
The Binay camp’s press release on Duterte comes after the release of a COA report citing Binay as being liable for the overpricing of the Makati City parking building.
It also follows voter preference surveys showing Duterte has overtaken Binay as the second top pick of respondents, after Senator Grace Poe. – Rappler.com
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