MANILA — State auditors should not be blamed for perceptions of corruption that arise from their reports on government agencies' spending of public funds, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said Wednesday as it defended the Commission on Audit (COA).
In a statement, the IBP said COA's reports, which are "based on the government's own records or the lack of it," bear no malice.
"Whatever 'taint' or 'perception' of corruption that arises from a COA report is not the fault of the auditors who are simply doing their sworn function," the IBP said.
The IBP's defense came a day after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III criticized the COA over its recent report that found alleged deficiencies in the Department of Health's (DOH) spending of P67 billion in COVID-19 funds.
An emotional Duque, in a House hearing, said the COA report supposedly besmirched his agency's reputation.
But the IBP said the COA was only fulfilling its constitutional duty in issuing audit reports.
"The COA's function is to track its use and determine whether it was utilized in an 'unnecessary' or 'extravagant' manner," the group said.
The IBP said the DOH should cooperate with the COA to explain its deficiencies instead of criticizing the agency.
The DOH had earlier rejected corruption allegations following the release of the COA report, adding that the amount is fully accounted for.
President Rodrigo Duterte also drew flak after he told the COA to stop publishing reports and flagging government offices.
Duterte also told his Cabinet members to ignore COA reports.