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No sacred cows in P8-billion health mess—Duque

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday vowed to punish those responsible for anomalies in the P8.1-billion, two-phase Barangay Health Station Project, saying he was shocked by the volume of irregular transactions in his department.

“Heads will roll. Big names, small names, past and present. There will be no sacred cows. Heads will definitely roll,” Duque said at a briefing.

“I tried to give the persons involved the benefit of the doubt,” Duque told reporters. “I am beyond frustrated. I am saddened and disgusted that the Filipino people are being shortchanged by the very people who are supposed to serve them.”

The goal of the BHS Project was to build a functional PhilHealth-accredited health station in every barangay to ensure access to primary health care, using public elementary schools as identified sites.

But a task force organized by Duque in April confirmed the findings of a Commission on Audit report, which found that the project “was obstructed by ineligible and non-workable project sites that were not fully validated before project contracting and implementation due to the absence of specific guidelines.”

The CoA also noted that equipment procured for the project remained idle or undistributed to the intended beneficiaries.

Duque said the order of business was to clean house from within.

“I will continue instituting changes, including reorganization, in the coming days,” he said.

He said he has also ordered a meticulous review of all transactions entered into by the previous administrations.

The DoH has also submitted documents to the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, which issued requests and subpoenas to help their own parallel investigations.

Duque said he has also sent a formal request to the CoA to conduct a fraud audit of the BHS project, as well as all other projects included in the P9.3-billion Special Allotment Release Order dated Dec. 29, 2015. He has also asked the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a fact-finding investigation to hold responsible officials accountable.

Duque said he will ensure full cooperation and transparency of the DoH in the ongoing investigations, as well as appropriate legal actions against erring officials.

Topics: Health Secretary Francisco Duque III , Barangay Health Station Project , PhilHealth , Commission on Audit
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