MANILA— Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday called on government agencies to respond to findings of the Commission on Audit on the use of public funds instead of taking offense.
In a video uploaded on Facebook, the Vice President said it is the job of state auditors to ensure that no government fund goes into corruption.
"Hindi natin dapat minamasama ‘yung mga reports na ‘to. In fact, binibigyan pa nga tayo ng opportunity na sumagot, na magpaliwanag, na maging mas transparent sa systems and processes natin," she said.
(We should not take these reports the wrong way. In fact, we are given the opportunity to respond, explain and become more transparent with our systems and processes.)
She added: "So when these reports and audits come— we must respond. Kasi we owe it hindi lang sa COA, pero mas importante, sa taumbayan (Because we owe it not only to COA but most importantly to the public)."
Dubbed as the watchdog of the treasury, COA recently flagged various government agencies over the handling of public funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, state auditors found deficiencies on how the Department of Health managed P67.32-billion in funds to fight the pandemic, which prompted Congress to investigate the agency.
But in response to COA's reports, President Rodrigo Duterte told members of his Cabinet to ignore them, saying nothing would come out of such audits.
He told COA to stop flagging government transactions and publishing its reports as it would taint agencies with "corruption by perception."
"Stop that flagging, God damn it. You make a report, do not flag. Do not publish it because it will condemn the agency or the person that you are flagging," Duterte said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also bewailed the report, saying it has damaged the agency.
But Robredo is taking a different perspective, expressing support for state auditors.
"Kaisa ako sa pag-encourage sa ating auditors na ipagpatuloy ang mabuting trabaho, kasabay ang paalala na may dahilan kung bakit may mga proseso tayong sinusunod—at katuwang natin ang COA para maipatupad ‘yung tunay na mabuting pamamahala," she said.
(I am one with you in encouraging our auditors to continue their work, at the same time reminding why there are processes we need to follow and COA is our partner to implement good governance.)
Last year, Robredo's office obtained the highest audit rating from COA, gaining the recognition for the third straight year.