‘Ito kinuha talaga,’ Duterte accuses De Lima, Roxas, Aquino admin departments of corruption

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of stealing public funds, citing previous audit reports that flagged millions to billions of unliquidated funds.

While defending Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in his weekly address, Duterte mentioned that the Commission on Audit during the Aquino administration discovered P617.44 million worth of unliquidated cash advances under the Department of Justice in 2013 when it was headed by De Lima.

He also cited P7 billion worth of unliquidated fund transfers made in 2014 by the Interior Department, which was then headed by Roxas.

Duterte compared this to the P67 billion “deficiencies” uncovered by COA on the Duque-led Health Department’s management of COVID-19 funds in 2020.

“Ito unliquidated cash advances. Ito perang kinuha talaga. Eh itong kay Duque magbili eh, ito nag-cash advance, nag-bale,” the President explained.

[Translation: These are unliquidated cash advances. This is really stolen money. Duque made cash advances for purchases.]

Ex-Aquino admin officials respond

De Lima said the COA reports released years ago have been resolved, which is why no cases have been filed against her and Roxas related to these audit reports. She challenged Duterte to file cases with the Ombudsman.

In 2014, the DOJ already denied that it has accumulated such an amount of unliquidated cash advances, noting that this only amounted to P890,000.

The detained senator also criticized Duterte for being hypocritical by digging up old audit reports when he urged his agency heads to ignore this and he himself has refused to disclose his own statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth.

"Duterte's accusation against me and Sec. Mar Roxas regarding COA's past reports on our agencies is just plain rich in irony and hypocrisy. Duterte raising issue with COA reports on the DILG and the DOJ under the PNoy Administration is a clear case of misdirection," she said in a statement on Wednesday.

Roxas responded in a social media post on Wednesday, saying "Why are you so obsessed with me? 5 years na. Magtrabaho na lang kasi [Just work]."

In a television interview, he said Duterte is once again using his name to divert the public's attention away from the agencies under his watch that have been flagged by COA. He said he has no pending liabilities that's why he was cleared by the Duterte administration to retire.

The Liberal Party also explained that the amount flagged by COA is the responsibility of local governments and not the department.