President Rodrigo Duterte was transmitting a message to Congress to reform accounting processes when he recently lashed out at the Commission on Audit (CoA) which he had blamed for the slow pace of key government projects, the Palace said yesterday.
Mr. Duterte ranted about kidnapping and torturing CoA personnel in front of 4,000 local barangay officials during a forum in Pasay City as he criticized the agency anew over its rules on the spending of government funds.
“I think it’s addressed to Congress. If there are provisions there that will impair the delivery of services, then Congress should amend the procedures of the auditing protocols,” presidential spokesman and chief legal adviser Salvador Panelo said.
“For instance, if the requirement is 100 days, you can make it 25 days,” he added.
Panelo also defended the President’s joke, saying it was merely Duterte’s style to speak in “a hyperbolic style.”
Don’t delay projects
The CoA should observe auditing protocols without derailing government projects, Panelo added.
Mr. Duterte was merely voicing his frustration over delayed government projects due to unnecessary regulations, the official said.
“Auditing protocols can be observed without derailing government projects. It requires creativity and dexterity, but always within the impositions required by law,” he explained.
Panelo reiterated Mr. Duterte will not do away with the colorful language in his speeches.
Duterte is a “forthright person and the more his critics and detractors lambaste him on his style and action, the more he will stick to them,” he said.
“This irreverent side of the Chief Executive has endeared him to the overwhelming majority which catapulted him to the presidency,” Panelo said. “For him to change the very endearing ways that have struck a chord with the masses of our people just to please and appease his critics and the opposition is akin to dreaming an impossible dream,” he said.
“The message put across and delivered to our people by spicy remarks is lost on his detractors who don’t see anything good in what he does, but certainly not to the Filipino people,” he added.
Panelo said the President is an “action man” who detests inefficiency and delays in the delivery of public service “which can be avoided.”
He said CoA can apply its rules “liberally but not in derogation of what the law requires and still within its ambit.”
A day after he criticized the CoA, Duterte said in a speech he hoped his colorful language has not offended anyone.
Duterte said he was “pursuing the limit of civility” by attacking those who unfairly treated him.
It was not the first time Duterte criticized CoA. In September last year, he hit back against a former CoA commissioner who called him out for discrediting the agency.
In a post on social media, former CoA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza told Duterte to “give us respect because we deserve it.”