Duque seeks probe of P8.1-B health station mess
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has sought the help of the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman in investigating the alleged anomalous implementation by the Aquino administration of the P8.1-billion barangay health station (BHS) project.
In letters to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and COA Chair Michael Aguinaldo, Duque requested that a fact-finding investigation and a fraud audit be conducted on the project of the Department of Health (DOH) that aimed to build 5,700 health stations in public elementary schools nationwide to promote greater public access to primary care.
Duque said the parallel inquiries were meant to “pinpoint the offices and officials responsible for entering into this disadvantageous contract.”
In April, Duque formed a task force to look into the project. It was also prompted by the COA’s 2017 performance audit, as well as the contractor’s termination billing to the DOH worth P2.9 billion.
According to the COA report, the program “was obstructed by ineligible and nonworkable project sites.”
Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-an said it was the “primary responsibility” of the DOH to identify the sites where the BHS would be built.
Tong-an noted, however, that even if the sites had not been identified, the contract had already been awarded to Jbros Construction.
Of the P8.1-billion budget, P1.2 billion was paid to the contractor in 2016. The remaining P6.9 billion is “secured” with the Land Bank of the Philippines, according to Duque.
Tong-an said that they were told that 429 BHS had supposedly been constructed. A check by the DOH regional offices, however, found that only 270 or so had been built.
“I am saddened and disgusted that the Filipino people are being shortchanged by the very people who were supposed to serve them,” Duque said.
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