DOH: No corruption in handling P67 billion in COA-flagged COVID-19 funds

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2021 01:15 PM


MANILA— The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday slammed corruption allegations following a Commission on Audit (COA) report that drew questions on how it used over P67 billion in COVID-19 funds, adding that the amount is fully accounted for. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the agency is nearing completion of documents in response to state auditors, but there are still units in the agency that have yet to complete required papers.

The Filipino public can judge DOH by then, Vergeire added, noting that the agency would not back down from any probe. 

"We are open to all sides of investigation. 'Di po kami aatras diyan, gusto ko lang sabihin sa ating mhga kababayan na sana po ang paghuhusga, gawin natin kapag kumpleto na po ang ating nakikita na ebidensya," she said. 

(We will not back down from any investigation. I just want to tell our fellow Filipinos that they should judge us once they get a hold of the evidence that we will submit)

"Pagdating po sa kaperahan, hinding-hindi po kami gumagawa ng korapsyon." 

(But when it comes to money, we are not doing any corruption)

A 2020 COA report made public on Wednesday said the health department failed to comply with existing laws and regulations in handling the country's COVID-19 response funds worth P67.323 billion. 

The COA also found a "doubtful liquidations" of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) claims credited against Interim Reimbursement Mechanism funds amounting to P81.818 million.

The same mechanism made headlines last year after it led to trails of corruption in the state insurer agency, prompting the resignation of its chief Ricardo Morales after some P15 billion worth of funds were found missing.

PhilHealth earlier this year said the P15 billion was not stolen and have already been liquidated.

In a rarer clarification on Friday, the state auditors said the report, however, did not indicate that the DOH had lost the funds to corruption. 

"The Report itself does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost to corruption," the note read.

COA REPORT 'PROCEDURAL'

In a separate statement, DOH said the COA findings are procedural and the report is done annually. 

"Nililinaw po namin na ang ulat na ito ay parte ng normal na pagsusuri ng COA at naglalahad ng kailangang gawin ng Kagawaran," it read. 

(We are clarifying that this report is part of the normal mandate of COA and also recommended the necessary steps that the DOH should take.)

"Ang mga opisyal po ng Kagawaran ay kasalukuyang nakatutok upang isumite ang mga dokumento."

(Our officials are focused on submitting all the necessary documents.)

Vergeire, meanwhile, emphasized that they are working double time to submit their documents to COA. 

"Atin pong dino-double ang ating efforts para makuha ang lahat na ito at we will not wait for that specific timeline na binigay para makumpleto natin ang kailangan natin isumite so that report will be closed already."

(We are doubling our efforts to get all these documents. We will not wait for that specific timeline given to us to submit the documents and we will give it ahead so this could be closed)

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