COA Finds 'Deficiencies' in DOH's Management of Its P67 Billion Pandemic Budget

Senators seek probe, Duque says money 'accounted for'.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

State auditors have called out the Department of Health over deficiencies in the management of some P67.32 billion worth of funds intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate said it would investigate the matter.

Of the total amount, deficiencies were found in P66.29 billion due mainly to  "non-compliance of pertinent laws, rules and regulations," the Commission on Audit said.

The COA also disclosed additional deficiencies involving P1.04 billion-worth of COVID-19 funds that have not been included in the consolidated management letter it sent to the DOH last May.

"These deficiencies contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by the DOH during the time of state of calamity/national emergency, and casted doubts on the regularity of related transactions," COA said in its 2020 annual audit report of the department.

The DOH said that while it acknowledges the COA findings, the questioned P67.3 billion worth of COVID-19 funds were "accounted for."

"Wala pong kinurakot, inilaan natin ang mga pondong ito para sa ating mga kababayan. The flagged issues are being addressed by the DOH," said Health Sec. Francisco Duque III.

Here are some of the deficiencies that COA found in its of audit of COVID-19 funds:

  • P11.89 billion unobligated allotments as of Dec. 31, 2020 meant to strengthen the DOH's capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic
  • P3.42 billion worth of foreign-assisted projects whose implementation targets were not met as of year-end
  • P5.03 billion worth of contracts with procedural deficiencies and lack of documentation
  • P69.94 million worth of COVID-19 medical equipment and supplies that remained unused or were not immediately utilized
  • P98 million worth of cash advances and petty cash funds for COVID-19 response whose management was non-compliant with existing laws
  • P42.4 billion worth of public funds for COVID-19 programs which were transferred to other agencies without the required MOA and other supporting documents
  • P4.89 million worth of claims for financial assistance that were not paid as of year-end due to delayed cash downloading
  • P814 million worth of COVID-19 allowances whose payment were found non-compliant with rules
  • P1.4 billion worth of donations in kind that were not properly accounted for

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Senators on Thursday called for an investigation into the DOH's mismanagement of COVID-19 funds.

“It is imperative that we examine closely the DOH’s use of billions of pesos in COVID-19 response funds given the findings of the COA and the corruption allegations that hounded the agency’s procurement of various COVID-19 equipment and supplies,” said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

This story originally appeared on Reportr.World. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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