President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte chided on Thursday night the alleged “posturing” of some senators who are taking advantage of the Commission on Audit’s (COA) audit reports on several government agencies’ deficiencies in spending.

In his taped Talk to the People, Duterte told Filipinos not to be swayed by the investigations by some senators who merely want to gain publicity.

“Huwag ho kayong maniwala diyan sa mga imbestigasyon, imbestigasyon. Makita naman ninyo walang nangyayari puro lang, ‘We will investigate, investigate (Do not believe in investigations. Nothing happens there. They just keep saying, ‘We will investigate),’” Duterte said.

The released COA’s 2020 audit report flagged deficiencies that need an explanation from several government agencies, including the Department of Health (DOH).

The COA report has prompted the Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct separate hearings on the government’s use of public funds.

Duterte, however, said the Senate hearings led to nothing.

“Pakinggan mo ‘yung mga ibang senador diyan, mayroon talagang masabi (Listen to some senators there, that have so much to say). After an investigation, one or two or three days you’re hearing, wala na (you won’t hear anything from them),” he said.

Duterte said the senators did not even come up with recommendations since all they know is “posturing.”

“Walang rekomendasyon, walang dinemanda, walang napreso. Puro postura lang, question, question. Iyan ang mahirap sa (They do not have a recommendation. No one is facing a lawsuit. No one goes to jail. It’s just all posturing. They just asked questions. That’s the problem),” he said. “’Yung lahat na pakulo nila na hindi naman totoo at kaagad sinasakyan para lang makaporma (That’s just their gimmick and they ride on the issue for publicity even if the accusation [against several agencies] is not true).”

Duterte has earlier advised COA to “reconfigure” its audit reports to avoid public perception that flagged government agencies have committed irregularities.

He has also urged the state audit body to clarify in its report that the deficiencies found do not mean a state department is involved in corrupt activities.

Duterte gave the advice, as he repeatedly defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III after the latter has come under fire for the DOH’s supposed deficiencies in handling the PHP67.32 billion worth of coronavirus disease 2019 response funds.

Article IX-D, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states that the COA “shall have 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, including government-owned or -controlled corporations with original charters, and on a post-audit basis.”

It is one of the three independent constitutional bodies in the country, aside from the Commission on Elections and the Civil Service Commission.

No irregularities

Addressing the nation anew, Duterte reassured them that the government is spending the public funds properly.

“Nandito naman po kami (We are just here always). This is your regular program of government mainly to show to the people where the money is going – anong nangyari sa pera ninyo at ano ‘yung ginagawa. (what happened to the money and how that was spent). Importante kasi alam niyo ‘yung pera na nandiyan at alam ninyo na ginagamit sa hustong paraan (You need to know that the money was spent properly). That’s the reason for this program,” Duterte said.

Duterte also told the public that he will be the “last person” to betray them.

“So ako Presidente ninyo (I’m your President), you trusted me, you voted for me so that I would be the last person, ako ‘yung pinakahuling taong manloko sa inyo (to deceive you). At puwede ninyo akong – hindi na ako Presidente – patayin ninyo ako kung ako’y nagkamali o nagsisinungaling (You can kill me, once I’m no longer president, if I made a mistake or lied),” he said. (PNA)