Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, rallied behind the Commission on Audit (COA) and said that COA was simply doing their job, and any findings were their business. According to Caritas Philippines’s national director Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, these red flags are a way of ‘serving justice’.
“Public funds are people’s money. Ergo, justice demands transparency and accountability,” Bishop Bagaforo said.
He also called on the public to rally behind our state auditors so that they may do their job well and keep the commission’s independence. (Read: Mayor Vico Sotto Named Anticorruption Champion by US State Department)
‘Bastion of truth’
Bishop Bagaforo added that letting the people–the taxpayers–know where their money goes to is a ‘moral obligation’ of all public servants.
Fr. Antonio Labiao, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, echoed the bishop’s statement and went on to say that COA is a “bastion of truth and courage despite the intimidation from President Duterte.” (Read: 3 Prayers of Guidance and Enlightenment for Government Leaders)
He further said that the flagged P67 billion worth of COVID-19 funds of the DOH would have been helpful to all the healthcare workers that are tirelessly battling the pandemic in the frontlines. It would have also assisted the patients who have been inflicted with the novel coronavirus.
“The money could have made a huge difference in our war against Covid-19 pandemic had our health department, in particular Sec. Francisco Duque, stepped up, listened to and worked with health experts, instead of being a Malacañang puppet,” Fr. Labiao said.
Other agencies that were flagged by the state auditors were the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), among others. A state auditor working on various audit reports recently died of a heart attack, said to be due to stress.
Over the last week, social media has been filled with news about the COA’s findings in different government agencies. The state auditors have been flagging various agencies regarding their handling of finances and their respective budgets.
On August 12, COA flagged the Department of Health (DOH) for P95.15 million worth of expired and unused drugs and medicines. They were also found to have had expenses worth P557 million that were ‘irregular, unnecessary, and excessive’. (Read: 3 Times Lolo Kiko Proved He Was Serious About Fighting Corruption)
The flagging of DOH and other agencies and government units by the state auditors earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte, who said that what the commission was doing was ‘flogging‘ instead of flagging.