DOJ Sec. Guevarra says Duterte ‘fully understands’ COA’s mandate

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2021   •   584

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte is fully aware of the constitutional mandate of the Commission on Audit (COA) to safeguard public funds.

Guevarra issued the statement days after Duterte told COA to stop flagging government agencies while documents are still being processed.

Duterte on Monday said COA should not flag government agencies while documents supporting every official transaction are still being collated and filed as this could create a perception of corruption among the public.

Duterte’s remark was triggered by the commission’s audit report flagging alleged deficiencies in the use of DOH’s COVID-19 funds.

Malacañang later clarified that Duterte was only asking the independent government body to stop publishing preliminary reports and not the annual audit reports.

The President as a lawyer fully understands the mandate of the COA as a constitutional body. I think his chief concern is on the way the COA’s preliminary findings are presented to the public and the impression that it leaves in the mind of the people prior to full compliance by the agency concerned,” Guevarra said.

The Justice secretary also emphasized that in general, government agencies “exert a lot of effort” to comply with numerous auditing rules and regulations, although they are often hampered by the tedious process of collating and submitting documents in support of each and every official transaction.

“I understand that the COA recognizes this constraint and has expressed willingness to review and simplify its requirements, without sacrificing safeguards to promote efficiency, transparency, and accountability in government service,” Guevarra said.

COA earlier stressed it is not releasing its reports to the media but are merely being uploaded to their website. The commission is also not releasing any press statements unless it is meant to clear terms or avoid misinterpretation.

“My understanding is that the COA regularly reports its observations on a government agency’s compliance with standard auditing rules and regulations and with other regulatory processes such as in the procurement of goods and services,” the DOJ chief said.

“The COA also makes observations on the utilization of government funds and resources at the disposal of the subject government agency,” he added.

He, however, noted that the matter of determining whether any deficiencies noted in the course of audit constitute a possible violation of law devolves upon other organs of the government.

The issue on COA’s audit report and the agencies concerned are currently being discussed in separate inquiries in Congress.

PNP backs DOH’s recommendation to keep PH under COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has expressed support to the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH) to keep the country under Alert Level 2 amid the declining cases of coronavirus infection.

In a statement, PNP chief Police General Dionardo Carlos said the existing alert status in the country should not be downgraded yet due to the looming threat of the newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant.

“The time isn’t ripe yet since it’s the holiday season and we have observed more people becoming complacent to go outdoors, disregarding health protocol, and unmindful of the risks,” he said.

He also believes that a shift to a more relaxed quarantine level will affect the compliance of the public to minimum health standards.

Carlos, however, said that the PNP will abide by decision that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases on the implementation of COVID-19 alert levels system.

“The local government units are vested the authority to issue Executive Orders that police personnel are duty bound to enforce,” he said.

Metro Manila is under Alert Level 2 until December 15. Other areas in the country have also been placed under the same level.

The DOH earlier said that the IATF is still discussing whether or not to lower the alert level in the capital region.

PH gov’t eyeing to administer 7 million COVID-19 jabs in second vaccination drive

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is aiming to administer seven million COVID-19 vaccine jabs for the second round of nationwide vaccination drive, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.

The second mass immunization campaign is scheduled from December 15 to 17.

“Ang tina-target natin dito, mga 7 million para second dose, para maabot yung ating pinupuntiryang 54 million by the end of the year na bigyan ng kumpletong bakuna,” Duque said in a televised public briefing.

This target is lower than the first vaccination drive conducted last November 29 to December 1 and later extended until December 3.

The government had hoped to inoculate 9 million people during the first three-day immunization campaign. More than 10 million were vaccinated in the extended drive.

The vaccination drive was launched in a bid to scale up the country’s vaccination rate to achieve population protection against COVID-19.

So far, more than 38 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated out of the 91.7 million doses administered since the immunization was rolled out in March.

The number of individuals who have received their first dose rose to 56.7 million.

The government is aiming to fully vaccinate at least 54 million by the end of the year.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressed hope that the second vaccination drive will also be successful.

“We will have a second round of Bayanihan Bakunahan from December 15 to 17. I hope that we would have the same success. But this time lesser because parang naubos na natin ang Pilipino sa ‘yung what counts sa bakuna kaya medyo there’s a slowdown of the COVID-19,” he said.

He also expressed optimism that the Philippines will be able to overcome the pandemic amid increasing vaccination rate in the country.

Duterte offers DOH Secy post to OCTA fellow

Robie de Guzman   •   December 7, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has offered OCTA Research fellow Nicanor Austriaco the top post in the Department of Health (DOH) to replace Secretary Francisco Duque III.

During his weekly Talk to the People that aired late Monday, Duterte asked Austriaco if he is open to being designated as the new health chief.

“I would be happy to appoint you as the Secretary of Health. If that is okay with you,” he said after Austriaco finished his presentation on the Omicron COVID-19 variant during the public briefing.

Austriaco declined the offer.

“No po. Secretary Duque is doing a fine job po and he’s a Thomasian po,” he said.

Duterte pressed on with his offer, saying Duque has been asking to be replaced.

“He has shown — he vents a desire really to rest, you know, after all this ruckus against him,” the president said. “Sabi ko I’ve been forcing him to stay but he would be happy to give way to you, I’m sure.”

“Yes, Mr. President, to another Thomasian,” Duque chimed in.

Austriaco, a priest and a molecular biologist, is also part of the team developing the Philippines’ first vaccine against COVID-19.

 

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.