DOH vows no more transfers of COVID-19 response funds to PS-DBM in 2022

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2021 03:46 PM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gives an update to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on August 30, 2021.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gives an update to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on August 30, 2021. Joey Dalumpines/Presidential Photo

MANILA— Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday assured the public that his agency would no longer transfer any COVID-19 response funds in the 2022 budget to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM). 

This came after senators exposed alleged irregularities in the previous procurement of personal protective equipment through the PS-DBM. 

It was found that the Department of Health (DOH) had transferred P42 billion to DBM office for the purchase of supposedly overpriced personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic.

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez exacted a commitment from Duque during his agency’s budget briefing.

"A lot of questions on the procurement by PS-DBM of the mask, face shields, PPE. Can we get a commitment, secretary? DOH should do it," asked Rodriguez. 

Duque told Rodriguez that they are committed not to do it again.

"Yes, your honor as I have said, the situation has improved in the sense that the global supply chain has pretty much stabilized... yes, your honor, we will do that," according to Duque. 

PS-DBM is an agency that buys commonly-used supplies for government offices in bulk and at cheaper costs. 

In an earlier question, Duque clarified that while the DOH has its own Bids and Awards Committee for procurement, they would still need the PS-DBM for the procurement of common-use supply and equipment. 

This is because DOH's Bids and Awards Committee members have other functions in the agency, he said.

The country's top health official also said items outside of those classified as common use will be procured by DBM directly.

The Commission on Audit (COA) earlier questioned the DOH's decision to transfer P42 billion to the PS-DBM without proper documentation.

— RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

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