Duterte defends DOH on issue of ‘deficiencies’: ‘It’s impossible to steal P67.3 billion’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has seemingly cleared the Department of Health of alleged corruption related to “deficiencies” in its management of P67.3 billion worth of funds for its COVID-19 response.
In his weekly late-night public address on Monday, Duterte pointed out that the “deficiencies” flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) only meant that some documents were missing.
“When COA says deficiency, that deficiency doesn’t mean that the money was stolen,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino. “Deficiency is in really producing the necessary documents to complete the story.”
“It’s impossible to steal P67.3 billion,” he added. “To the issue whether the money has been stolen, that is pure bullshit.”
He said the public was only assuming that the money had been stolen.
COA earlier flagged the DOH for deficiencies in its use of funds, specifically in its noncompliance with pertinent laws and regulations, resulting in missed opportunities in its management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In answer, the DOH said it is was addressing the deficiencies marked by COA.
It also maintained that it had 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.”
Duque likewise assured that all transactions of the DOH were accounted for and documented, pointing out that, otherwise, officials and employees would have to go to jail.
The COA also issued a statement, saying: “The report itself does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost to corruption.”
It added that the report also had recommendations for the DOH to address the findings — part of the audit process allowing the concerned agency to rectify any shortcomings.
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