Senate blue ribbon panel to probe DOH's use of COVID-19 funds | Inquirer News

Senate blue ribbon panel to probe DOH’s use of COVID-19 funds

/ 09:46 PM August 13, 2021
Senate blue ribbon to probe DOH's use of COVID-19 funds

This foreboding sign for many residents of packed Metro Manila communities will be a familiar sight again as the metropolis goes on enhanced community quarantine or ECQ from August 6-20, 2021. FILE PHOTO/AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate blue ribbon committee will open next week an investigation into how the Department of Health (DOH) handled over P67 billion of its COVID-19 pandemic response fund in 2020, which state auditors earlier found to have deficiencies.

“Bubuksan ko yang [I will open a] blue ribbon [investigation] on Wednesday just to ask the Department of Health why they cannot spend the [P67] billion that was given to them,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, said Friday in an online forum on the country’s vaccination program organized by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

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“I do not want to fix the blame, I just want to fix the problem and to make sure that they do that. They have to answer to our countrymen on why we’re not able to do what we’re supposed to do,” he added.

The blue ribbon committee looks into the accountability of public officers.

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In its 2020 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) found deficiencies in how the DOH managed P67.32 billion of its fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it contributed to challenges that the country faced during the health crisis.

Aside from the COA report, the blue ribbon investigation will also cover other issues related to DOH’s budget utilization, with a particular focus on its pandemic spending.

Based on the committee schedule posted on the Senate website, the investigation will be conducted motu proprio or through the own initiative of the panel.

READ: COA red flags ’indiscriminate’ waste of DOH funds even amid COVID menace

The DOH earlier said it is addressing the deficiencies marked by COA.

The health agency also 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.”

Reacting to COA’s findings, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has assured all transactions of the DOH are accounted for and documented, otherwise officials and employees would go to jail.

KGA

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: COA, COVID-19, DoH, investigation, P67 billion pandemic fund, Senate blue ribbon
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