After COA report, Lacson chides Duque for ‘hubris, lack of knowledge’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday chided Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over his “obvious lack of knowledge” on the importance of the supply chain in the Department of Health (DOH) after state auditors flagged the agency’s handling of pandemic funds.
“I remember that during DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III’s confirmation hearings at the Commission on Appointments, I asked him some questions on DOH’s supply chain issues and what he intended to do to resolve those issues. He could not answer my questions satisfactorily, if at all,” Lacson said in a statement.
“Am I surprised that he did not even bother to research in spite of his obvious lack of knowledge on the importance of the supply chain in his department? What gives? It’s hubris,” he added.
The senator also accused Duque, who has earned the ire of several senators over the course of the pandemic, of only caring about his “boss”—President Rodrigo Duterte—and not about the public’s health concerns.
“He only cares about his boss, the President who, for reasons only they probably know cannot and will not remove him from office in spite of repeated calls from the majority of senators and other sectors,” Lacson said.
“Sadly, the issues brought to light by the COA (Commission on Audit) report, among others, shows that he doesn’t care about the health concerns of the people he is supposed to serve,” he added.
The COA found deficiencies in how the DOH managed its P67.32-billion fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it contributed to challenges that the country faced during the crisis.
COA’s annual audit report for DOH in 2020 showed that the deficiencies are caused by non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations.
‘Nothing short of criminal’
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, said the findings of state auditors indicate the gaps in the government’s pandemic response.
“We have always known that someone dropped the ball, and now, with the recent COA findings, we know exactly by how much,” she said.
“Given the COA findings, the DOH seems to be depriving thousands of Filipinos of healthcare services in the face of national emergency and it is nothing short of criminal,” she added.
Reacting to COA’s findings, Duque assured all transactions of the DOH are accounted for and documented, otherwise, officials and employees would go to jail.
The DOH, in a separate statement, maintained that it has exerted efforts to effectively implement provisions of the two Bayanihan laws, “more particularly those health responses in this time of a state of calamity or national emergency amidst varying challenges.”
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.