/ 23 August 2021

THE ATENEO University System, along with several business groups, defended the Commission on Audit from attacks and criticism from the Duterte administration.

A joint statement signed by the Ateneo universities and 26 business groups said that they support COA’s Constitutional mandate to scrutinize government transactions.

“It is our solemn duty as a people to uphold at all times the independence of our constitutional commissions. Upholding their constitutional mandates goes beyond compliance with the law; it is an affirmation of the moral duty and social conscience that we owe to our people,” they said.

“Our Constitution, which every public official has sworn to uphold under pain of penalty, demands no less,” they added.

The signatories include Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Naga University, Ateneo de Zamboanga University and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan de Oro.

Duterte recently slammed COA for flagging the use of P67.3 billion by the Department of Health, citing various “deficiencies.”

“Stop that flagging! Do not flag and do not publish it because it will condemn the agency or the person that you are flagging.” Duterte said.

The President has since softened his stance on the state audit commission, saying that it should be expressly written in reports if it found any signs of corruption and give enough time for the agencies flagged to answer their findings.

“I know there is no malice. You are just doing your duty. But in making the report, kindly reconfigure everything and say at the start, at the first instance if you are interviewed, immediately say, ‘There is no corruption here because there is no money involved,’” Duterte said.