Duterte slams ex-COA commissioner Mendoza: ‘She can’t lecture me’

FILE PHOTO: Former COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the statements of former Commission on Audit commissioner, Heidi Mendoza, during a speech in Malacañang Wednesday.

The president said he will not allow Mendoza, to lecture him about procurement procedures.

The heated exchange between the two began when the president told local officials not to heed COA regulations after Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos reported that the state auditor denied their request for cash advance for the purchase of construction materials intended for rebuilding houses damaged by the typhoon.

Mendoza posted on her Facebook that the disaster audit guide has been in effect since the time of Typhoon Ondoy wherein the local government is allowed to spend up to P500,000 in aid of calamity victims without having to go through a public bidding.

Duterte said he knows more about the procurement process than Mendoza does.

“Hindi niya ako ma-lecturan niyan (She cannot lecture me) because I was ahead of her by a mile diyan sa (in) understanding the nitty-gritty,” he said. “You convict a person by a circular? Not even by a law. And it’s a violation of circular. A circular, what is its dimension? That it reach the level of both the national and local.”

The chief executive said he is only defending government officials who cannot defend themselves against allegations of procurement irregularities amid the typhoon.

“I was speaking of the people who cannot defend themselves properly. I was not criticizing… so ‘yung doon sa (the case in)Benguet, sabi nitong ano (the official there said)— because they have to comply with certain regulations. Sabi ko (I said to them), ‘To hell with COA. Do not listen to them just do what I’m telling you to do. I will answer them’,” the president said. — Rosalie Coz

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