MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has chosen to remain silent in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's joke Tuesday that state auditors should be kidnapped or tortured for supposedly hindering the implementation of government projects.
“We have no comment on the matter” COA’s Public Information Office said in an email to reporters.
COA is the state audit agency that flags questionable disbursements of public funds. Its reports have led to numerous cases against former and incumbent public officials.
In a speech before barangay officials Tuesday, Duterte joked: "That son of a b***h COA, they see mistakes everytime... What if we kidnap COA personnel or have them tortured?”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it was “obvious” that the President was just joking.
The COA also kept mum when the President joked in September last year that the agency's auditor in Ilocos Norte should be pushed down the stairs so the official could not report on the capitol's fund disbursements.
Malacañang then defended the President and said the latter was just irked of red tape.
COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo later said in jest in an ambush interview that he had ordered his people to avoid stairs.
EX-COMMISSIONER TAKES STAND FOR STATE AUDITORS
Outspoken former COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza, meanwhile, stressed in a statement that the role of state auditors is to ensure that public officials are accountable.
“Kailan man ay hindi namin gustong manghimasok, magpabagal ng takbo ng transaksyon at lalong hindi upang makagawa ng oportunidad upang kumita. Ang aming papel ay magbigay ng pagkakataon na maituwid, mapaganda, maiayos ang takbo ng paggamit ng pera ng bayan sa paraang may pananagutan at bukas sa pagpuna ng bawat mamamayan o lahat ng may pakialam,” Mendoza said.
(Never did we ever want to intervene, delay transactions or find opportunities to make money. Our role is to give a chance to correct, improve and enhance the flow of disbursements of government funds in a way that there is accountability and is open to public criticism or everyone has a say.)
Mendoza also likened the work of state auditors to movie actors whose effective portrayal of real-life villains usually earn the ire of the public.
"Ang pag-aawdit ay parang artistang kontra bida sa pelikula. Kung maraming nagagalit sa iyo ibig sabihin ay epektibo at makatotohanan ang iyong pag ganap,” Mendoza said.
(The job of auditing is like that of a villain in a movie. If many people are getting upset with you, it means your portrayal of the role is effective and realistic.)
She also encouraged people who believe her to share her post or those who disagree to unfriend her on Facebook, making reference to the earlier statement of the President on pushing an auditor off the stairs.