Former commissioner tells Duterte to respect COA

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Former Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza slammed President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks against the audit body.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — A former commissioner of the state's audit body did not take President Rodrigo Duterte's recent remarks agains the Commission on Audit (COA) sitting down.

"Give us respect for we deserve it," former COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said in a Facebook post Monday.

Duterte on Sunday criticized COA for its prohibitions on government spending, in a situation briefing with Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos over the effects of Typhoon Ompong which battered northern parts of the country. The typhoon has left at least 66 dead, according to police data.

"Sinong taga-COA dito? Ihulog mo na sa hagdanan para hindi maka-report," Duterte joked.

[Translation: Who's from COA here? Push him down the stairs so he cannot report.]

Marcos, who sat beside Duterte, clapped and said, "Yes. Yes."

Duterte then said officials should not be afraid to defy the audit body's "stupid" circulars.

The comments came after Marcos raised her issues with COA, saying COA only allowed cash advances for food amounting to ₱15,000.

READ: Duterte eyes establishment of procurement body to oversee government purchases

But Mendoza, who served the state audit body from 2011 to 2015, said COA remains a long-standing, dignified institution.

"We are a constitutional Commission and not one of the past Honorable Presidents of our land has called on another institution subject under our authority to defy our rules. Yes, some might be outdated, others might be impractical to some, but it is actually in balancing flexibility and accountability where the real challenge lies!" she said.

The former COA executive added that despite no longer being part of the audit body, she still abides with their code of conduct in the same way that other government auditors do.

"Some of our own even laid down their lives defending and protecting public coffers," she said.

Malacañang has since clarified Duterte's remarks, saying the President only meant there should be no red tape in releasing assistance for calamity victims.