August 18, 2021
COA reports show why Duterte admin failing to meet sustainable development goals against corruption—CPDG
Successive reports of the Commission on Audit (COA) exposing irregularities in different government agencies’ spending prove the current administration’s anti-corruption drive is failing, Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) says.
In the past months, COA has been continuously flagging several government agencies’ COVID-related expenses that are prone to misuse (i.e. Department of Health’s ₱67B; Department of Social Welfare and Development’s ₱780M financial aid fund; Department Of Labor and Employment’s ₱1.572 B worth of cash advances; Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s underspending on its ₱5.5 B fund; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s ₱106 M fund transfers for National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict programs, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s ₱1.26 M expenditures on overpriced sanitary equipment, among others), not to mention previous inconsistencies it has uncovered in several local government units’ questionable disbursement of funds intended for the social amelioration program or SAP.
Last Monday, Pres. Duterte defended Health Secretary Duque and hit COA for its reports. Sec. Duque, on the other hand, emotionally castigated COA, saying that they ruined DOH’s reputation. Critics denounced this, calling it a “media stunt” aimed to “appeal to emotion”.
“President Duterte’s defense of Duque and his “flogging” of the Commission on Audit smacks of total disregard of the constitutional mandate of the independent Commission to safeguard taxpayers’ money,” said Liza Maza, CPDG spokesperson.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, ensures that participating countries should “provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”, including the elimination of corruption.
The fact that the President himself tries to stop COA from publishing reports negates the government’s commitment to “develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions”, as expressed in target 16.6 of the said goal. These reports by COA also cast doubt on the March 2020 Anticipated Progress Index data released by Philippine Statistics Authority which shows that it the country is on-track in effectively eliminating corruption and bribery (as indicated in target 16.5).
COA, in response, vowed to continue its work unhindered by the threats from the Chief Executive himself. Various groups, netizens and lawmakers defended and lauded COA.
“The President’s tirade against COA serves to preempt the COA audit and absolve Duque of his possible responsibility of any irregularities in the DOH, further exposing his so-called anti-corruption drive as a sham”, Maza added.
“These recent COA reports reveal how anomalous the current administration’s model of governance is. It only proves that corruption is alive and well, and takes place explicitly while the people are suffering the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and its underlying crises. This has to end, and culprits like Sec. Duque must be held liable to the law if we are to achieve genuinely inclusive, accountable, and transparent governance” ends Maza. #