Duterte taps ex-Davao city accountant as new COA chief

Pia Gutierrez and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2022 02:04 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2022 05:47 PM

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announces the appointment of Rizalina Justol as the new chairperson of the Commission on Elections. Screenshot from Palace press briefing/PTV livestream 
 Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announces the appointment of Rizalina Justol as the new chairperson of the Commission on Audit. Screenshot from Palace press briefing/PTV livestream

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed a former city accountant of his hometown as the new chairperson of the Commission on Audit, Malacañang said on Friday. 

Duterte signed Rizalina Noval Justol's appointment paper as COA chairperson on Thursday, said his acting spokesman Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. 

"We wish Chairperson Justol success and assure her that the government will always be supportive of COA’s efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of government funds," Nograles said in a press briefing. 

 

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Justol is a former city accountant of Davao City, where Duterte was a longtime mayor. 

She later served under the Office of the President as Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration. 

"All appointed officials are appointed based on experience, credentials, achievements, accomplishments," said Nograles.

"Secondly, for positions like sa COA chair... apart from the appointment, dadaan pa rin naman ng proseso ng (it will still go through the process of) confirmation," he added. 

 

 DUTERTE AND COA

Justol replaces COA chairperson Michael Aguinaldo who ended his 7-year term of office last Feb. 2. 

Last year, Aguinaldo and the President expressed contradicting views on whether the COA had jurisdiction to look into the finances of the Philippine Red Cross, whose chairman Sen. Richard Gordon, was then leading an inquiry into government's COVID-19 transactions. 

Aguinaldo said the state auditors had no jurisdiction over the humanitarian organization, as it is not a government agency. He said COA could only look into the state medical insurer's payments to the Red Cross for running COVID-19 tests.

But Duterte said COA would commit "dereliction of duty" if it did not look into Red Cross finances. 

The President in August also told his Cabinet members to ignore COA reports after auditors flagged "deficiencies" in the health department's use of P67 billion in COVID-19 funds.

Earlier this month, a draft report by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee chaired by Gordon said Duterte was liable for his appointees who were involved in allegedly anomalous pandemic deals. 

The President has denied overpricing in these transactions, including the procurement of anti-virus masks and safety gear for health workers.