Juggling funds: P42B transfer of DOH funds to DBM may be illegal - lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2021 02:27 PM

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MANILA – The transfer of P42 billion by the Department of Health to an office under the Department of Budget and Management may be illegal, said the lawmaker leading the probe on the Health department’s alleged fund mismanagement.

“To start with I think the transfer is, definitely it’s improper. I think there might be basis to call it illegal because it’s juggling funds,” said Probinsyano Ako Partylist Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr.

Singson notes that Congress did not give DOH funds to be transferred to another department.

“There were these funds approved specifically for the Department of Health. If we allow every agency to transfer allocated budgets to them…they have discretionary powers? They don’t. They cannot have discretionary powers over those funds that are approved for their allocation.”

“Otherwise, all these agencies can just juggle funds and even the COA might go crazy trying to trace those funds,” he added.

“The transfer alone I think is questionable. Definitely it’s improper, inappropriate, and there might be some basis for illegality,” he noted.

Singson said that even a memorandum of agreement for the fund transfer between the two agencies would not have made things right.

“To transfer the funds and give them the function of dispensing with those funds, for a purpose that is specifically the role of the disbursing agency, it’s like transferring your responsibility, relinquishing your roles, and that is not allowed. Having a MOA just simply makes a cover,” he said.

Singson said that whoever made the transfer or authorized it may be held liable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“There’s a provision here that says entering on behalf of government to any contract or transaction, manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public official profited or will profit thereby, can be considered graft & corruption.”

“Now, the order to transfer the funds to the DBM, did this become disadvantageous to the government? I think we have circumstantial evidence to presume there were irregularities committed there already,” he explained.

Citing the same law, Singson also said government officials may be held liable for their mismanagement, inefficiency, and wrong decisions in managing public funds, even if it is not proven that they have stolen the same.

“Because we can see that the government and public funds have been misappropriated, or were used but there was wastage so, we will go into the specifics as we conduct our hearings,” he said.