President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday said the Commission on Audit (COA) also flagged two agencies under the Aquino administration for supposedly unliquidated cash advances and fund transfers.
Duterte brought up the issue during his pre-recorded Talk to the People as he defended anew Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who was heavily criticized because of COA’s findings on the Department of Health’s management of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic funds allotted last year.
He said COA, in its past audit findings, had also flagged the Department of Justice (DOJ) under then secretary and now jailed Senator Leila de Lima for its unliquidated cash advances in 2013.
“‘There’s this agency, DOJ, under (then) secretary Leila de Lima, unliquidated (P617.44) million worth of cash advance in the year 2013…..That stupid is now detained and could not account for this [COA report]. She just issued a press release saying it was already liquidated),” Duterte said in Filipino.
Duterte also mentioned the past COA report on the unliquidated fund transfers in the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) led by then secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
He said the fund transfers accumulated a huge amount of P7.04 billion because of failure to monitor the liquidation and submission of financial reports.
“(The) DILG, unliquidated P7 billion worth of fund transfers to various projects implemented under the term of former DILG secretary Mar Roxas, as of Dec. 31, 2014,” Duterte said.
The President also slammed de Lima for criticizing his administration without taking into consideration her questionable cash advances during her stint at DOJ.
On Monday, de Lima said Duterte was “corrupting” COA when he asked the agency to “reconfigure” its audit reports by stating that flagged agencies are not involved in corruption.
Duterte then turned the tables on de Lima, telling her to respond to COA’s previous findings on DOJ.
“Now, de Lima is making noise. Go ahead, make a noise….Filipinos should know who’s the thief,” he added in Filipino.
In November 2014, the DOJ denied that it had P617.44 million in cash advances. It said the “nearly all unliquidated cash advances have been properly liquidated.”
On the other hand, Roxas’ political party, the Liberal Party, explained in 2016 that the P7 billion fund transfers done by the Roxas-led DILG were unliquidated because the funded projects were still under implementation.