'Catering for virtual meetings': COA flags DOH reg'l offices for P557M spending

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2021 05:28 PM

The Department of Health (DOH) office
The Department of Health (DOH) office in Manila. April 21, 2014. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged "irregular, unnecessary, and excessive" expenditures by various regional offices of the Department of Health (DOH), amounting to over P557 million. 

Among the “unnecessary expenditures” flagged was catering services for virtual meetings amounting to P1.08 million in Region 6 Center for Health Development (CHD), which were "not essential" in the conduct of the activities since the participants were in their respective work stations and performed their usual functions.

Another tagged as irregular expenditure was P2.11 million worth of hazard payments to personnel of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Region 7 even though they did not physically report to work or were not qualified due to accumulated leave of absence.

Also included in “excessive expenditures” is Region 2 CHD’s hazard pay which exceeded the allowable amount set under Administrative Order No. 26 on the grant of hazard pay to government personnel who physically reported for work during lockdown.

The report noted that the expenditures did not comply with established rules, procedural guidelines, practices as well as the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines and COA Circular No. 2012-001.

“The apparent disregard of existing laws and regulations affected the regularity, validity and propriety of covered transactions. Government funds and property were exposed to the risks of loss or misuse,” the auditors said.

The audit team said that notices of disallowances will be issued on said transactions.

The audit report said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has agreed to “direct the operating units to comply fully” with rules and other policies to prevent a disallowance in audit.

Meantime, government auditors also included in the report the non-utilization of Marawi City's crisis funds of the DOH amounting to P58.9 million.

The audit team noted that the DOH received the notice of cash allocation to cover the site development and landscaping in preparation for the construction of Marawi City General Hospital, per approval of the Office of the President dated November 17, 2020.

“No obligation was made pertaining to these funds, thus, the same lapsed and were reverted to the National Treasury,” the audit team said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at COA on Tuesday as he defended the DOH, which was flagged by state auditors over its questionable handling of around P67 billion pandemic funds. 

Duterte said COA reports should be ignored, claiming they have led nowhere in terms of prosecuting corrupt officials.

Other officials and sectors have expressed support to the COA, which they said is a constitutional body just doing its job.

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