Caritas Philippines defends COA after Duterte tirade
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines. PHOTO COURTESY OF KIDAPAWAN DIOCESE
By Mariel Celine L. Serquiña
August 19, 2021
The Catholic Church’s social action arm has rallied behind the Commission on Audit after the agency received a tirade from President Rodrigo Duterte for flagging possible misuse of government funds.
Caritas Philippines lauded the firm stance of state auditors in reporting to the public the government’s use of public funds.
Its national director Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo urged the people to support COA in flagging misuses and abuses of public funds “to finally serve justice”.
“Public funds are people’s money. Ergo, justice demands transparency and accountability,” Bagaforo said.
“We call on all taxpayers, all sectors and stakeholders: let us rally behind COA and protect its independence,” he said.
Duterte earlier criticized state auditors, who questioned the Department of Health’s management of over P67 billion Covid-19 pandemic funds.
He ordered agencies to ignore COA reports and asked state auditors to stop publishing their initial findings because it supposedly creates impressions that government agencies are corrupt.
The prelate, however, said that it is a “moral obligation” to let the public know where their money goes.
“Our president must not forget the cardinal rule for all civil servants: public service is public trust,” Bagaforo added.
Fr. Antonio Labiao, executive secretary of the national Caritas, also recognized COA for being “bastion of truth and courage despite the intimidation from President Duterte”.
He decried the health department’s supposed fund allocation deficiencies that could have aided the country against the pandemic.
“Our public medical frontliners are wanting appropriate support and benefits, while our kababayans have been dying in hospital parking lots,” Labiao said.
“The money could have made a huge difference in our war against Covid-19 pandemic had our health department, in particular [Health] Sec. Francisco Duque, stepped up, listened to and worked with health experts, instead of being a Malacañang puppet,” he added.
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