SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go urged concerned agencies especially those subject to the Commission on Audit’s findings to thoroughly explain their expenditures related to the country’s COVID-19 response efforts. He emphasized that these issues should be clarified the soonest in order not to lose focus on addressing the pandemic.
“As a legislator and member of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, I support the efforts to probe how public funds were spent in our country’s COVID-19 response,” he said in a statement.
“Kaya ang apela ko rin sa lahat ng may kinalaman sa paggasta ng pondo ng bayan, dapat ipaliwanag ninyo nang maayos, kumpleto at madaling maintindihan ng tao.
Kapag naklaro na lahat ng mga isyu na ito, mas matututukan natin ang tunay na kalaban — ang COVID-19 at ang hirap at gutom na kasama nito,” he also said.
Go reiterated that his position against graft and corruption has been firm and consistent saying that he and President Duterte will never tolerate any form of it.
“Kahit sino ka man, kahit saan ka man nanggaling, basta may anomalyang mapatunayan ay dapat may mananagot,” he said.
“Base sa mga napagusapan (sa nakaraang hearing), talagang kailangang busisiin pa ang mga naging COA initial findings upang lumabas ang katotohanan. Kung mapatunayang may nasayang, nawala, o nanakaw na pondo ng bayan, dapat kasuhan agad at ikulong,” he said.
Go however appealed to fellow lawmakers and the public that while they rigorously seek for the truth, objectivity must be maintained in order not to pass judgment too early without knowing all the facts.
“Keep in mind that government employees are also frontliners in this battle against COVID-19. Those who have served the country and our people with utmost integrity in this time of need are not asking for recognition, but only fairness,” he explained.
Go has also asked COA to clarify its recent audit report on the deficiencies in the Department of Health’s PhP67.32 billion COVID-19 pandemic response budget.
“Trabaho at mandato naman talaga ng COA na siyasatin kung ginagamit nang wasto ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno ang pondo ng bayan. […] Pero sana iklaro rin ng COA sa publiko ang mga inilalabas nitong report,” the Senator said.
In a statement, COA stated that the audit process for the deficiencies has not been finished yet and that it is premature to draw any conclusion based on its findings at this time.
“Importante dito maging balanse ang ating pagtingin. Let us not be quick to arrive at a conclusion and pass judgment,” said Go.
“Alam natin ang araw araw na hirap na kinakaharap ng DOH at dapat hayaan natin silang magpaliwanag,” he added.
The Senator then urged DOH and other concerned agencies to keep their focus in leading the country to overcome the pandemic. He advised them to face the issues head on and clarify matters in order to dispel any doubt on the government’s COVID-19 response efforts.
“Kung may kakulangan man, dapat iwasto agad. Kung may malabo, dapat klaruhin, at kung may kailangan pang punan, ayusin agad,” urged the Senator.
“Tama na bantayan natin sila at punahin kung may pagkukulang, pero huwag naman natin silang husgahan agad base sa paunang obserbasyon lamang,” he added.
If anomalies are proven, Go said justice will and must be served. “Kung mapatunayang may anomalya, kasuhan sa Ombudsman at ikulong agad dahil walang lugar sa administrasyong ito ang mga korap.”
Given this, the Senator called on government agencies to continue to work hard and ensure that there are no irregularities in its transactions.
“Bukod sa pagsiguro na sapat ang ating mekanismo upang mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan, parte rin po ng mandato ninyo ang pagsiguro na wala ni isang iregularidad sa mga hakbang na ating ginagawa,” he said.
“Naniniwala naman ako na buhay at kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino ang inuuna ninyo sa inyong trabaho,” added Go.
In a separate statement, Go clarified that former USec. Lloyd Christopher Lao of the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Services was never his aide, contrary to assertions made by several individuals and news agencies.
“I wish to clarify that contrary to claims of some personalities and news outlets, former USec. Lloyd Christopher Lao of the DBM Procurement Services was never my aide. To call him such is inaccurate,” Go said.
“He was a volunteer election lawyer of President Duterte in 2016 and was appointed to the Presidential Management Staff at the start of the term until early 2017. After which he was appointed to HLURB and later to the DBM in 2019 before resigning last June of this year. Lao did not directly report to me nor did he ever serve as my aide,” stated Go.
“I already assumed my post in July 2019 as an elected Senator when Lao was designated to head the PS-DBM in August 2019,” he added.
“Kung kailangang busisiin pa ang mga naging procurement ng PS-DBM na saklaw ng COA initial findings, by all means, silipin natin upang lumabas ang katotohanan.
Kung kailangang ipatawag si Lao sa susunod na mga pagdinig, gawin natin upang magkaroon ng kaliwanagan, once and for all,” Go said further.