DOH employee claims 'conspiracy' of higher-ups over cancer funds

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2023 03:35 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2023 03:54 PM

The Department of Health office in Manila on April 21, 2014. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
The Department of Health office in Manila on April 21, 2014. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — A Department of Health employee said Wednesday senior health officials allegedly conspired over the multimillion-peso fund for the government's cancer program.

According to Dr. Clarito Cairo Jr., the funds were transferred to 20 specialized public hospitals instead of 31, which he said in his complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman was highly disadvantageous to the government and a grave disservice to cancer patients.

Cairo is the program manager of the cancer control division of the DOH's Disease Prevention and Control Bureau.

He claimed the bureau's director issued a memorandum on June 3, 2022 over the sub-allotment of Cancer and Supportive-Palliative Medicines Access Program (CSPMAP) funds before the National Integrated Cancer Control Council decided on June 20, 2022.

The NICCC is the highest policy-making body for cancer control in the country.

"Aside from the memorandum [and] different issuances, I have some proof that there's really a conspiracy," Cairo told ANC's "Headstart".

"The transfer of funds or the sub-allotment of funds can't push through without the approval of each single entity going up," he added.

The DOH initially set aside P786 million for the cancer assistance fund but P23 million was added from the agency's savings. The total amounted to P809 million.

Instead of sub-alloting the funds, Cairo said pooled procurement should have been used for the cancer medicines.

He said the advantages of pooled procurement included reduced corruption, more efficient procurement processes, increased access to medicines and cost savings. 

Cairo also said he raised his concerns to DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire through separate memorandums on July 5 and July 28, which allegedly went "unanswered".

He said he had a meeting with Vergeire on Feb. 3, 2023.

"Our OIC Vergeire did not want to influence my position or if I'm going to withdraw the case or the complaint, she made it clear at the start of the discussion," he said.

"She can vouch for the integrity of those respondents. They have their own evidence. The proper forum should be the court."

In an ANC interview last week, Vergeire said the sub-allotment of funds to 20 hospitals was aboveboard.

The amount transferred to the selected access sites was also based on their own requests, she added.

Vergeire also noted that those excluded from receiving CSPMAP funds were provided with cancer medicines and cancer assistance funds.


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