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Be ‘cool’ on COA reports, Palace tells public

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Malacañang on Thursday appealed to the public to “be cool” on audit reports which flagged the budget handling of various agencies, as it instructed concerned officials to submit “detailed” answers on questions raised against them.

Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said Filipinos should not be quick to condemn government offices under scrutiny, saying they should be given the chance to clarify the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA).

“Let’s be cool for now. At this point, we should wait for their answers [on the preliminary findings],” Roque said in a televised briefing. “Let’s wait for [COA’s] final reports.”

Several agencies — including the departments of health, education, labor, foreign affairs, social welfare, interior, and energy, as well as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine National Police, Philippine Ports Authority, and People’s Television Network — have been called out by the COA over their respective fund utilizations.

The reports made available online contained 2020 listing “opinions and observations” which supposedly present non-compliance of government agencies with laws and regulations on the use of public funds.

However, the constitutional commission, an independent body from the executive branch, did not conclude that money was lost to corruption pending explanations from concerned offices.

For Malacañang, the said government agencies should swiftly submit the necessary documents to address the issues raised by public auditors.

“They should be quick and detailed in answering it so it can be included in the final reports,” Roque said.

The Palace official likewise assured the public that there were no irregularities in the administration’s use of public funds, although he said that President Rodrigo Duterte won’t hesitate to sack officials who would be proven involved in corruption.

“The public funds are used appropriately because that is the President’s marching order, but rest assured he won’t hesitate to fire corrupt officials,” Roque told reporters.

Duterte, who has vowed not to tolerate even a whiff of corruption, defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday from criticisms after COA found alleged deficiencies in the use of P67.3 billion in Covid-19 funds.

He said corruption claims against the agency were “pure bullsh*t.”

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