Latest Duterte joke: 'Kidnap, torture COA auditors'
Speaking to barangay chiefs in Pasay City on Tuesday, Duterte blasted the Commission on Audit (COA) for supposedly hampering the implementation of some state projects.
Toto Lozano/PPD

Latest Duterte joke: 'Kidnap, torture COA auditors'

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has again sparked outrage over another statement described by Malacañang as a joke – this time about kidnapping and torturing state auditors who find fault in government projects.

Speaking to barangay chiefs in Pasay City on Tuesday, Duterte blasted the Commission on Audit (COA) for supposedly hampering the implementation of some state projects.

The President said some officials of the bureaucracy would rather debate with their superiors than follow orders and would cite directives from the COA and the Civil Service Commission. He also claimed that the COA is making things difficult for agencies to implement projects.

“Mas marunong pa sa iyo (They know more than you),” Duterte said at a peace and order summit at the Cuneta Astrodome.

“Ah p***** i** ’yang COA na ’yan, l****. Kasi ’yang COA, every time, may mali talaga. Ano ba itong COA na ito? So, mag-kidnap tayo ng taga-COA ilagay natin, i-torture natin dito. T*** i** (That son of a b**** COA. The COA commits mistakes. What is this COA? Let’s just kidnap someone from COA and torture him. Son of a b****),” he added.

While the remark drew laughs from some of Duterte’s listeners, it did not sit well with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which expressed alarm over the Chief Executive’s use of words like “torture” and “kidnapping.”

Some lawmakers have also assailed Duterte’s statement, saying it exposes state auditors to harm and causes a chilling effect on government personnel who are just performing their duties.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, claimed that Duterte, whose administration has been accused of human rights violations, was “obviously” joking when he made the remark.

“The President and I are alike. We are mischievous, which means, if you oppose the things we do that are not illegal, we would keep on taunting or annoying those who criticize us,” Panelo said in Filipino in a text message.

“The more you criticize his style, the more he will stick to his mischief and irreverence,” he added.

Panelo claimed the statement was also meant to tell the COA not to impose stringent measures that delay state projects.

“(President Duterte) is chiding the COA not to derail ongoing government projects by certain stringent protocols that go against the letter and intent of the law,” the presidential spokesman said.

It was not the first time that Duterte talked about physically harming COA personnel.

In September last year, Duterte also lashed out at the COA after Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos lamented to him that the agency was making it hard for the provincial government to release cash advances intended for the procurement of construction materials for typhoon rehabilitation projects.

Duterte then asked local officials to defy COA’s “cock-eyed” circulars. The President even told Marcos to push the state auditor down the stairs.

COA ignores tirade

While the COA has chosen to ignore Duterte’s fresh tirade against its state auditors, United Nations Undersecretary-general Heidi Mendoza was quick to defend the agency.

“We have no comment on the matter,” the COA-Public Information Office replied to reporters via e-mail when asked for a reaction on Duterte’s recent statement against the agency.

In a statement posted on her Facebook page yesterday, Mendoza, a former COA commissioner, slammed Duterte over his supposed ignorance of the commission’s mandate.

Mendoza, who was appointed as UN undersecretary-general for international oversight services in 2015, likened auditing work to a role that a villain has to play, saying that the more effective the villain’s portrayal is, the more people are angry at him. – With Elizabeth Marcelo, Janvic Mateo

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