President Rodrigo Duterte has no authority to stop the Commission on Audit (COA) from performing its constitutional mandate of safeguarding the utilization of public funds and making public the results of its audit.
Duterte in his weekly taped briefing last Monday told COA to stop flagging government transactions and publishing its reports as it would taint agencies with “corruption by perception”.
Duterte conveniently forgot that COA is an independent constitutional commission which is not accountable to the president.
The right of the people to information cannot be negated and quashed by invoking that officials should be shielded from “corruption by perception”.
COA’s audit reports are thoroughly reviewed and documented.
When major government departments and agencies are found to have unspent and/or misspent their respective budgets, then it is COA’s obligation to disclose the sanctionable negligence to utilize public funds and the culpable misuse of the people’s money.
Instead of immobilizing COA, Duterte must order the prosecution of the responsible officials of the agencies flagged by COA and accord them due process.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN