Press Release
August 18, 2021

Opening speech of Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon Senate Blue Ribbon hearing on COA audit of DOH COVID-19 funds

Mr. Chairman, nakakalula at nakakalungkot ang laman ng report ng COA sa Department of Health.

It is alarming that out of the P77 billion COVID-19 budget of the DOH, the COA has found deficiencies on the management of P67 billion.

Napakarami po nating mga katanungan.

Mr. Chairman, to me, the transfer of P42 billion to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management without documentation is the most alarming item. It comprises the biggest chunk of the mismanaged P67 billion DOH COVID-19 funds. The COA said the P42 billion fund transfers "were not supported with complete documentary requirements contrary to law and regulations, and casted doubts on the validity, regularity and propriety of transactions."

Ito po ang gusto nating maliwanagan:

  • Sino po ba ang nag-utos sa DOH na ipasa ang P42 billion sa PS-DBM? Why is there no MOAs?

  • Saan po ba ginamit ang P42 bilyon? Ito po ba ay nagastos na? Ilan po ba ang nabiling PPE, test kits at ventilators? Sino po ba ang naging supplier/s?

Karagdagang katanungan po: kasama po ba sa P42 bilyon yung pinambili ng face masks na ayon sa COA ay binili sa halagang P27.22 kada piraso at face shields na nagkakahalaga ng P120 kada piraso. Hindi po ba masyadong mahal ang pagkakabili rito?

These transfers raise red flags as these are unaccounted/unliquidated transfers. These are most susceptible to corruption as they easily become invisible.

Paalala lang po: the pandemic is not an excuse to disregard procurement laws and transparency in the use of public funds.

Another alarming item is the huge unobligated allotment of P11.89 billion. Ano po ba ang mga proyekto na kasama sa P11.89 billion? P975 million for the Special Risk Allowance, Active Hazard Duty Pay; P388 million for the hiring of emergency workers; P764 million for hiring of human resource for health personnel of the DOH; P2.6 billion for continuous COVID-19 laboratory testing services and the hiring of human resources for health personnel; P1.3 billion for the Covid-19 Emergency Response Project; and P3.4 billion for procurement of vaccines.

Ang tanong po natin, P11.89 billion lang po ba ang hindi ginastos ng DOH?

Mr. Chairman, it appears to me that the DOH tried to mask its huge unobligation rate and its inefficiency by transferring P42 billion to PS-DBM. In effect, this fund transfer minimized, on paper, the DOH's underspending of COVID-19 funds. Mas malaki pa po ang hindi ginastos na pera ng DOH kung isasama natin yung hindi nagastos na pondo na ipinasa sa PS-DBM.

Sa audit ng COA sa PS-DBM, nakita ng COA na mahigit P29 bilyon pa lamang ng kabuuang P42 bilyong ipinasa ng DOH sa PS-DBM ang nagastos para ipambili ng PPEs, gamot, ventilator, test kits at iba pa. Ibig sabihin po, mayroon pang mahigit P12 bilyon ang nakaparada pa sa PS-DBM.

Kaya sa kabuuan po, lumalabas na aabot sa 24 bilyon o 31.17 percent ang COVID-19 funds na hindi nagastos ng DOH.

Is it criminal to underspend in the face of a pandemic? Ilan po ba ang mabibiling oxygen tank sa halagang P24 bilyon? Ilang frontliners po ba ang mabibigyan ng umento sa kanilang special risk allowance? Ilang PPEs at test kits po ba ang mabibili natin sa P24 bilyon?

Hindi lang po COA ang nagsasabi na may mali sa paggasta ng pera. Nauna na ang DBM. The DBM itself has responded to the slow obligation and disbursement of the DOH with budget cuts, calling out the agency for its "dismal spending" in previous years.

Mr. Chairman, these are just few questions and observations.

But before I yield the floor, may I just take this opportunity to laud the hard work of the men and women of the Commission on Audit. We thank you for your crucial role in good governance, in ensuring that the people's money is well-spent. Thank you.

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