MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday clapped back at President Rodrigo Duterte for bringing up old Commission on Audit (COA) reports on the supposed unliquidated funds of agencies that she and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas respectively handled during the previous administration.
“For someone who cannot even publicly disclose and release his own SALN, Duterte’s accusation against me and Sec. Mar Roxas regarding COA’s past reports on our agencies is just plain rich in irony and hypocrisy,” De Lima said in a statement.
De Lima served as Justice secretary while Roxas led the Department of the Interior and Local Government during the time of the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
During a public address on Tuesday night, Duterte mentioned De Lima and Roxas who were also reported by COA to have unliquidated cash advance and fund transfers in their respective agencies in 2013 and 2014.
But De Lima said Duterte’s act of raising the issue is “a clear case of misdirection.”
“I challenge Duterte to file cases with the Ombudsman arising from those COA reports. He cannot, because those accounts have long been settled and closed. The COA knows that,” she said.
She also said that neither of them threatened COA for releasing audit reports and that other Cabinet members of the Aquino administration “always took COA reports seriously, corrected whatever deficiencies were identified in those reports, and acted accordingly to comply with COA recommendations.”
“Hindi kami katulad ng mga ilang tao sa gobyerno ni Duterte na magngangangawngaw sa telebisyon, at lalong hindi katulad ni PNoy si Duterte na pagbabantaan ang COA dahil lamang ginawa nito ang trabaho nila,” she said.
“Walang nagsisigaw sa aming dalawa sa telebisyon na winarak kami ng COA,” she said in an apparent swipe at Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
COA called out the Department of Health under Duque over alleged deficiencies in the use of its funds for COVID-19 response.
De Lima, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, is currently detained over drug-related charges.