Ombudsman can act vs officials, including DOT chief, who are subject of COA reports: Palace
The Office of the Ombudsman should investigate all the findings of the Commission on Audit on certain agencies, including the Department of Tourism, and should not rely only on the Office of the President, Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said COA has voluminous reports regarding its observations on how each government agency used its funds.
"If you would ask me one-by-one, I would not know exactly what the president's position is on each and every observation that COA has had for this past year that they publish (the reports). What I can do is I can clarify what the Palace will do about this COA report, but that's too many," he said.
Thus, he added, "that's why there's the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman has the primary jurisdiction over that."
"That's why COA exists and that's why the Ombudsman exists. Let them file all the charges," he stressed.
One of the COA's reports involved the alleged anomalous P60-million contract of the DOT with the television program of the Tulfo brothers aired at state-run People's Television 4 (PTV4).
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo is a sibling of Ben Tulfo, owner of a media entity, which bagged the contract with the tourism department. He, with two other siblings, also hosts the TV program where the DOT advertisements have been placed last year.
Roque said if there is sufficient evidence that would warrant the filing of charges against Teo and her siblings, the Ombudsman could do it.
"Sometimes you have to dig deeper. They can only give you indications. So the Ombudsman has to investigate and has to do its own case buildup. You just can’t go to court and say, here’s the report, convict. No, it doesn’t work that way," he said.
Asked if Teo still enjoys the confidence of the President, Roque did not answer categorically.
But he said, "Every Cabinet member unless they are fired, enjoys the trust and confidence of the President."
Roque also said the Ombudsman and even the Palace could look into the COA's report that Officer-in-charge Celestina Ma. Jude De la Serna of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. had spent much in her weekly travels and hotel accommodations last year. Celerina Monte/DMS