Duterte again takes Commission on Audit to task

December 04, 2018
Rodrigo R. Duterte
Rodrigo R. Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has expressed concern about the “gridlock” in government projects and  investments caused by the Commission on Audit, pointing out the commission should be “sane enough” to know about the constitutional prohibition on dishonoring contractual obligations.

“I have to talk to CoA (chairman), I have to talk to him. Either I go to his office or he comes to me here,” Duterte said during the Christmas tree lighting event in Malacañang Monday.

“There are so many things that we cannot understand with each other. There seems to be a gridlock dito sa ating patakbo ng ating [in running our government] and even investments. It has stopped,” he added.

Duterte said the government aims to improve the economy and generate local jobs through promoting investments but lamented that CoA has made decisions blocking these projects. He suggested that CoA should “invent” a decision that lets in much-needed investments in the country instead of discouraging them.

“The Philippines has been known as a country which does not honor contractual obligations. And yet, CoA, if you are listening now, should be reasonable and sane enough to know that in the — in our Constitution, impairment of the obligation of contracts are not allowed,” he said.

“So instead of rendering an opinion that blocks the project, why don’t you just invent if you have to? Find the words to allow the investments here because we need the money and there are lots of people without jobs,” he said.

Last September, the President assailed the audit commission for some decisions that prohibit government spending. Local officials have been advised by the President to defy “stupid” CoA circulars on government expenditures especially in times of natural disasters.

He made the remarks after Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos complained about CoA prohibitions on cash advances for typhoon rehabilitation efforts. He even joked that the governor should push the CoA personnel down the stairs to stop the person from reporting on government transactions.

CoA, an independent constitutional commission, is considered the guardian of the nation’s coffers.