Press Release
August 28, 2021

Dispatch from Crame No. 1134:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Duterte's continuing attack on COA

Duterte asked the other night who will audit the COA. He asked the question in the manner of a eureka moment, as if only someone of his level of intelligence on Earth could have thought of the question. For someone who almost always makes it a point to remind everyone that he is a lawyer, and therefore knows the law (which is not always the case), Duterte most often than not only reveals his ignorance of the law.

Who audits the COA? The Constitution itself provides that constitutional bodies and commissions that enjoy fiscal autonomy, viz, the Civil Service Commission, the COMELEC, the Ombudsman, the Judiciary, and of course, the COA, are different from executive agencies of the government in that they are only subject to reporting on a post-audit basis. Some other institutions fall under the same classification of being subjected on a post-audit basis. These are autonomous state colleges and universities, GOCCs and their subsidiaries, and such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government.

So to answer Duterte's question, the COA is not treated like any ordinary department of the Executive branch. The COA, like any other constitutional body enjoying fiscal autonomy, and not a part of the Executive branch, is subjected only to post-audit. In short, it is not treated to the same audit scrutiny as the Executive Department simply because the bulk of the annual budget is spent by the latter, while it is only fiscal autonomy that protects the former from attacks by the political branches of government, like what Duterte is now doing to COA.

If Duterte has any beef with this constitutional set-up, then his problem lies with the Constitution, as it has always been the case since day one. Duterte simply has no respect for the republican and democratic form of constitutional government set up in the 1987 Constitution.

What Duterte is not saying of course is that his question is in fact another attack on COA, after his administration has supposedly proved the absence of irregularities mentioned in the COA reports in the Senate and House hearings on the 42 billion transfer of DOH funds to the DBM's Procurement Service without any supporting MOA. That his officials have purportedly come through scot clean in the Congressional hearings is in itself doubtful, as the hearings raised more questions than answers. That is just Duterte patting himself on the back, because no one else will.

But what is definitely glaring is that Duterte will not stop attacking other institutions, whether the COA, the Senate, or the House, just to divert attention from his own administration's irregularities and deficiencies in the utilization of anti-COVID funds amounting to tens of billions of pesos. He will even raise dead ghosts of supposed irregularities reported by COA on the DOJ under my leadership to divert attention from his rotten administration.

The bottomline here is that Duterte is not interested in transparency or accountability. All he is interested in is managing the political fall-out from his underlings' incompetence and corruption. He is prepared to demolish institutions and destroy personalities just to get his way.

This is the Duterte brand of leadership. It definitely does not inspire confidence in the survival of our institutions when they attempt to work within and live up to their constitutional mandates. In order to survive, they just have to follow the whims and caprices of Duterte as the all mighty lord and leader.

Access handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 1134 here:

News Latest News Feed