The Commission on Audit (CoA) found “deficiencies” in the use of P66-billion Covid-19 funds coursed through the Department of Health (DoH).
The commission said it found deficiencies in the procurement process, lack of documentation in various contracts, unutilized medical equipment, unpaid financial assistance claims and non-compliance with the grant of various Covid-19 allowances, as well as irregularities in the management of the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
“These deficiencies involving public funds aggregating P66,287,336,325.31 [were] mainly caused by non-compliance [with] pertinent laws, rules and regulations and contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by the DoH during the time of state of calamity/national emergency. It, likewise, [cast] doubt on the regularity and propriety of related transactions,” CoA said in the audit report.
CoA, in its Consolidated Management Letter on the audit of Covid-19 funds for 2020, detailed the audit observations and recommendations to the DoH.
“Our continuous audit also disclosed additional deficiencies involving Covid-19 funds in the aggregate amount of P1,036,390,245.26,” it said.
It said the DoH had unobligated allotments totaling P11.89 billion as of Dec. 31, 2020. A large percentage of the unutilized balance came from the Bayanihan 2 funds.
CoA also said targets for the implementation of foreign-assisted projects with P3.42 billion in funds were not met in 2020.
Also as of end of 2020, medical equipment and supplies procured for Covid-19 response totaling P69.94 million “remained unutilized or were not immediately utilized,” it said.
The commission said in Region 6 (Western Visayas), financial assistance totaling P4.88 million was not paid to beneficiaries.
The DoH said the P67.3 billion flagged by the commission can still be accounted for.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said the money that was flagged by CoA was not being “stolen” from the agency.
He added that the issues raised by CoA have been addressed.
“Rest assured that the funds allotted to the DoH are all spent for the procurement of test kits, PPE (suits), payment of HCWs (health care workers) benefits, salaries of HRH (human resources for health) among others,” Duque said in a statement.
Duque said the DoH will remain open and transparent on how it spent the funds for the country’s health response during the pandemic.
“We take our CoA findings very seriously and have been working to further improve our processes and controls so that we can serve the public most effectively especially during this pandemic,” Duque said.
WITH RED MENDOZA