Senators find link between Dengvaxia, health station projects
Senators discovered on Wednesday that the special allotment release order (Saro) for two controversial projects of the Department of Health (DoH) was issued on the same date.
During the hearing of the Senate committee on health, Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-An reported that the Saro for the P8.1 billion Barangay Health Station (BHS) was issued on December 29, 2015, about six months before the end of the term of President Benigno Aquino III.
The committee headed by Senator JV Ejercito is conducting an inquiry on the allegedly anomalous implementation of the BHS project during the past administration.
After the Saro was issued, Tong-An said incumbent Secretary Benjamin Diokno issued last May 9, 2018, a certification to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, confirming that the funds for the project were sourced from the 2015 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF).
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III interrupted Tong-An and asked to cite again the Saro number for the BHS project.
Tong-An then complied and gave the Saro number (150028813) for said project.
“Do you also have the Saro number of the Dengvaxia fund?” Sotto asked again, referring to the aborted P3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccine, which was first implemented during the previous administration.
The health official disclosed that the Saro number for Dengvaxia was 150028814.
“Ah magkasunod ito?” Sotto, apparently referring to the Saro numbers for BHS and Dengvaxia programs.
But it was Ejercito, who pointed out that the Saro for the two programs of the DOH was issued on the same date.
“So this was released December 29? As far as I can remember, the same release date of the Dengvaxia kaya po siguro natanong ni Senator Sotto,” the committee chair said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, noted that like the BHS project, the P3.5 billion fund for Dengvaxia was also sourced from the MPBF.
“Ano ba talaga ang intention nitong fund na ito…?” Gatchalian said of the MPBF, noting the huge fundings for BHS and Dengvaxia came from the said budget.
“Bakit ang laki nitong pondo at parang hindi naman ginagamit at ginagamit lang sa ibat-ibang projects other than what is described, which is personal benefit,” he said. /cbb
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