President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he would audit the Commission on Audit (COA) and other government agencies himself if he wins the vice presidency in 2022.

Duterte, during his second Talk to the People address this week aired Thursday night, said his government was a victim of state auditors and their reports.

Recently, the COA flagged “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s (DOH) handling of P67.3 billion pandemic response funds. Deficiencies were also found in several other government agencies.

Duterte said state auditors should be more lenient and adjust their standards amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sa oposisyon na hindi pa natapos ‘yung proyekto kagaya nitong kay (Health Secretary Francisco Duque III). You know, COA, may trabaho siya, patapusin mo muna bago mo i-audit kasi kung i-audit mo ‘yan ngayon, skeletal force,” he said.

“E it’s not easy really to comply, we know that we should comply. There is no problem about it. But can we have just enough elbow room at this time? Do not adopt the standards of the pre-pandemic days,” he added.

Duterte then asked his chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, about who audits the COA, to which Panelo responded, “Wala.”

“I will do that if I become vice president. Ako na lang rin ang mag-audit sa lahat ng gobyerno. Lahat, pati ‘yung akin, mag-umpisa ako sa akin,” he said.

According to the 1987 Constitution, the COA has the “power, authority and duty to examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by or pertaining to, the government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and on a post-audit basis.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro