The Commission on Audit has flagged the Department of Health for non-compliance with the laws and regulations in the management of P67.323 billion in COVID-19 response funds.
The department said it takes the COA findings “very seriously” and that it is “working to further improve our processes and controls” even as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III insisted that not a centavo was lost to corruption.
“The P67.3 billion is accounted for. Wala pong kinurakot, inilaan natin ang mga pondong ito para sa ating mga kababayan,” Duque said Wednesday evening.
Duque’s office was able to receive COA’s 2020 report last July 30.
State auditors said procurement worth P5.038 billion was found to lack documentation and had procedural deficiencies in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Among the deficiencies were the disadvantageous purchases of P194.403 million, defects in the sworn statements in contracts, non-posting of procurement information on government website and non-provision of technical specifications in contracts.
At least P69.942 million worth of medical equipment and supplies were also purchased but were unutilized or were not immediately used, COA stated.
Some P4.49 million in liquidated damages were also not applied against payments to suppliers, it said, adding P275.908 million in cash allowances, gift certificates and grocery items also did not have legal basis.
According to COA, the donations in-kind worth P1.405 billion were also not properly documented.
Some P11.89 billion were unobligated despite an urgent need to beef up the capability of the DOH to address the pandemic.
“This condition affects the utilization of COVID-19 funds vis-a-vis the agency’s implementation capabilities and its response to the urgent healthcare needs during the time of state of calamity/national emergency,” the 2020 report read.
It further noted that there were additional deficiencies of P1.036 billion with the improper charging of transactions, utilization of funds not for intended purposes, and low or zero utilization of funds of P488.953 million.
State auditors cited “doubtful liquidations” of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s claims credited against the interim reimbursement mechanism funds of P81.818 million.
COA recommended to DOH to conduct a thorough investigation on the irregularities through its internal audit service and impose proper administrative sanctions if needed.