House of Representatives

Duterte should see COA as ally vs corruption, says House leader

Rambo Talabong

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Duterte should see COA as ally vs corruption, says House leader

TRANSPARENCY. President Rodrigo Duterte during his late-night address on August 16, 2021.


'That is a constitutional body that has a constitutional mandate,' says PROBINSYANO AKO Representative Bonito Singson

Instead of attacking the agency, President Rodrigo Duterte should consider the Commission on Audit (COA) as an ally in his vaunted anti-corruption campaign, House public accounts panel chairman and PROBINSYANO AKO Representative Bonito Singson said on Thursday, August 19.

“That (COA) is a constitutional body that has a constitutional mandate. Everybody, from the President down, should look at these things (COA audits) positively,” Singson said in a Rappler Talk interview.

Singson added: “In fact, he (Duterte) himself made a declaration that he will try to end corruption. While we are not saying that there is corruption involved in our continuing hearing, this should be of help to the President.”

Rappler asked Singson for his reaction to Duterte’s slamming COA for flagging possible irregularities in the government’s spending, notably the Department of Health (DOH)’s misused and unused P67 billion worth of funds intended for the pandemic response.

As House public accounts panel chairman, Singson was presiding over the probe into alleged irregularities in the spending of funds in 2020 by the DOH.

“If we ignore this (COA audits), and if we do not give it importance, we might face more chaos, because nobody is held accountable. As public servants, as public officials, we are accountable to the people… and the role of COA is to check that we are doing this right,” Singson said.

Singson’s comment came after Duterte called on government agencies to ignore COA’s reports. In previous instances, Duterte joked about kidnapping and torturing COA personnel and also pushing an Ilocos Norte auditor down the stairs. These were remarks that earned condemnation but the President has not apologized for them.


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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.