Duterte talks about kidnapping, torturing COA personnel

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte again expressed his dislike of the Commission on Audit (COA), this time saying he would kidnap and torture someone from the agency.

Speaking before barangay officials in Pasay City Tuesday, Duterte said, "Ah, p****g**a 'yang COA na 'yan. L***e. Kasi yung COA, every time may mali talaga. Ano ba itong COA na ito? Gusto mo magkidnap tayo ng taga-COA, ilagay natin, i-torture natin dito... Sino ba gusto makulong ng ano?"

The President said the agency made things difficult for local officials, which he admitted he did not like.

In a statement, Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo downplayed the comment as another joke.

"The more you criticize his style the more he will stick to his mischief and irreverence. But at the same time PRRD is chiding COA not to derail ongoing government projects by certain stringent protocols that go against the letter and intent of the law," Panelo said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in a separate statement, reminded that torture and kidnapping are illegal acts.

"As crimes, these are grave human rights violations that should not be taken lightly or be used as a joke, especially if used to challenge the mandate of a constitutionally-mandated body, such as the Commission on Audit," the CHR said, adding that dialogue and cooperation are better avenues to improve how government bodies work.

In a social media post, former COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza said that auditing is a job akin to being an actor portraying a villain role.

"Kung maraming nagagalit sa iyo, ibig sabihin ay epektibo at makatotohanan ang iyong pag-ganap," Mendoza said.

This was not the first time Duterte railed against COA.

In September last year, he hit back against a former COA commissioner who called him out for discrediting the agency.

In a post on social media, former COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza told Duterte to "give us respect because we deserve it."

Duterte had criticized COA for its prohibitions on government spending during a situation briefing with Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos over the effects of Typhoon Ompong.

"Sinong taga-COA dito? Ihulog mo na sa hagdanan para hindi maka-report," Duterte joked.

[Translation: Who's from COA here? Push him down the stairs so he cannot report.]

Marcos, who sat beside Duterte, clapped and said, "Yes. Yes."

He then reiterated his order to Benguet officials to go ahead with providing for residents affected by Ompong and ignore the COA's regulations.