Ex-commissioner to Duterte: COA loves you, but this is not a cheering squad

By: Neil Arwin Mercado - Inquirer.net | August 18,2021 - 11:13 AM

Former COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza. SCREENGRAB FROM INQUIRER.net VIDEO

MANILA, Philippines — While the Commission on Audit (COA) “loves” President Rodrigo Duterte, it is not in a cheering squad.

Former COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza had this to say Tuesday after the agency received a verbal flogging from Duterte following the release of a report that found deficiencies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) use of its P67.3 billion funds.

“[Love] nga po kayo ng COA kaya inaalagaan nila ang inyong pamamahala at ginagawa nila ang trabaho nila,” Mendoza said.

(COA loves you as it takes care of your government and it is doing its job.)

“Hindi po ito cheering squad, kampihan lang at palakasan ng sigaw ang peg at [wish] ko wag namang mauwi sa lalong hindi pagkakaunawaan!” she added.

(This is not a cheering squad where we take sides and my wish is this does not end up in further misunderstanding.)

But even in a cheering squad, there are judges who are observing, said Mendoza.

“’Yun lang kahit po sa cheering may mga judges na nagmamasid… when there is a high level of compliance risk, and the operating environment is permissive (may lockdown kaya relax ang internal controls at audit),” Mendoza said.

(Even in cheering squad, there are judges who observe when there is a high level of compliance risk, and the operating environment is permissive.)

“Conducive po to corruption lalo na parating na ang election!” she added.

(This is conducive for corruption especially when the elections is nearing.)

Mendoza said that COA was already “kind” as it only mentioned deficiencies in the report.

She added that such reports cannot be diminished as they seek to ensure there is no corruption in the government.

“With due respect, laking bait na nga ng COA at deficiencies na lang ang nasabi nila pero hala may kuda ka pa? Hindi po pwedeng sabihin papeles lang at walang kwenta, may mga papeles na tinatawag nating accountability document,” Mendoza said.

(With all due respect, COA was already kind as it only mentioned deficiencies and you still have something to say? We cannot simply say these are just paperwork that is worth nothing. We have documents that we call accountability document.)

“Kung sila po ang nawawala, kailangan pong hanapin upang alamin kung may sinasadya bang kadahilanan kung bakit hindi maibigay!” she added.

(If they are lost, we have to check if there is a reason why agencies cannot provide them.)

In the end, Mendoza said, in jest: “Wag magalit Baka ako tumakbo pag nagalit ka, sambunutan ako ni Sara. Shukot ako”, referring to Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter.

(Don’t be mad. I might run if you get mad and Sara might pull my hair. I’m afraid.)

COA’s audit report of DOH showed that the deficiencies which were caused by non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations have led to missed opportunities while contributing to challenges that the country faced during the crisis.

On Monday night, Duterte said COA should stop flagging government transactions and publishing its report as they would taint agencies with “corruption by perception.”

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TAGS: COA, DOH funds, Duterte, Heidi Mendoza

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