MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte cannot ignore the Commission on Audit, despite his apparent disdain for the constitutional body, the chairperson of his anti-corruption commission said Tuesday.
Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chairperson Dante Jimenez, who inked a memorandum of agreement with COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo, acknowledged the mandate of the commission in ensuring accountability of public officials.
Asked if the MOA is proof that the President is recognizing COA despite his statements uttered in the presence of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos in the aftermath of typhoon Ompong, Jimenez said the President simply cannot overlook the mandate of the agency.
“This is a constitutional body. We cannot disregard, even the President cannot disregard ang COA,” Jimenez said.
The MOA aims to strengthen the relationship between the 6-month old PACC and COA through information sharing on investigations involving corrupt presidential appointees.
In his opening statement before the signing though, Aguinaldo said MOAs are not really new as they have other agreements with other government agencies.
Last month, President Duterte criticized the COA after Marcos complained of prohibitions concerning the release of funds during disasters.
The President had said that COA circulars should be ignored and even commented that auditors should be pushed down the stairs.
After the signing of the MOA, Aguinaldo hurriedly left the room and let Jimenez conduct the press conference alone.
“Sinabi ko na lang sa mga auditor umiwas na lang sa hagdanan,” Aguinaldo told reporters in jest before leaving.
Jimenez also defended the President who he says may have been misunderstood.
“He is a lawyer, so he knows. And these are just, you know the President as I understand him, he has quotable quotes, meaning to say controversial statements that are usually can be distorted,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez added he will be making his first Ulat sa Bayan on Thursday in Manila where he will disclose names of the first batch of officials involved in corrupt practices.