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Marcoleta: Senators ignored COA’s clarifications on pandemic supplies

/ 05:48 PM September 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  A lawmaker has accused the Senate blue ribbon committee of refusing to believe the Commission on Audit (COA) even if it already clarified that there is no overpricing in the procurement of pandemic supplies.

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Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta on Wednesday was referring to the clarifications given by COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo himself, after his office released the audit report of the Department of Health (DOH) for 2020, indicating that P67.32 billion of DOH’s funds contained deficiencies.

This includes P42 billion of its funds that was transferred to the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) — which is currently the subject of the blue ribbon committee hearing.

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“Kung talagang pinanindigan na ni Chairman Aguinaldo na wala namang overpricing, walang corruption, ang pagpapatuloy ng pagdinig ng Senado ay katibayan lamang na hindi naniniwala ang Senado, particularly ang blue ribbon committee, sa COA.  Hindi ba gano’n ang magiging conclusion madam auditor?” Marcoleta asked COA supervising auditor for DOH Rhodora Ugay.

“(If Chairman Aguinaldo really states that no overpricing or corruption exists, then the resumption of the Senate hearing proves that the Senate, particularly the blue ribbon committee, does not believe in the COA. Would you agree, Madam auditor?)

“Ang ibig sabihin lamang Madam auditor, aminin mo man o hindi, hindi po pinaliliwalaan ng Senate blue ribbon committee, ang admissions o ang inyong COA report,” he added.

(This just means that, regardless of whether you admit it or not, the Senate blue ribbon committee does not believe the admissions or your audit report.)

During the House committee good government and public accountability hearing on Wednesday, Marcoleta raised the issue several times, asking Ugay if she thought that the Senate panel chaired by Senator Richard Gordon was disregarding COA’s admissions.

Immediately after the COA report on DOH was made public and was covered by news outlets, netizens judged that it was indicative of corruption, leading Aguinaldo to issue a statement steering clear of the matter.

Then during the early part of the House hearing, Aguinaldo clarified that it is wrong to claim that COA mentioned overpriced pandemic supplies since their audit report focused more on inventory management.

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READ: COA did not say DBM-PS purchase of pandemic supplies ‘overpriced’ – chair 

Ugay declined to give an answer, saying that she only attended the Senate hearing because she was invited.

However, Marcoleta continued to claim that the Senate does not believe the findings of the COA, which have been the subject of congressional inquiries.

“Kailangan lang mapa-intindi nating mabuti, bago kami nagsimula siniguro ni Chairman Aguinaldo sa amin, wala pong overpricing […] at inadmit na ni Chairman Aguinaldo ng COA at nalaman na naman ng Senado sapagkat sinabi niya at nandoon siya. Ang ibig sabihin ba nito hindi naniniwala sa COA ang Senate blue ribbon committee?” the lawmaker asked.

(We need to understand well, before we started Chairman Aguinaldo assured us, there is no overpricing and he has already admitted and the Senate found out again because he said he was there. Do you mean the Senate blue ribbon committee does not believe in the COA?)

“Ibig bang sabihin ngayon dahil nagpapatuloy pa sila ng pagdinig, hindi naniniwala sa inyo ang (Senate)?” he added.

(Does that mean the senators do not believe you since they are still conducting the hearing?)

The House panel is investigating the possibility that the pandemic supplies were overpriced after it was revealed in the Senate hearing that a large part of the P42 billion fund transfers – which were in the COA report – was allocated to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

Almost P8.7 billion of the funds were transferred to Pharmally, which was revealed to have a small capital of P625,000.

READ: P8.7-B med supply deals went to tiny company 

READ: Pharmally exec’s admissions suggest Yang has deep financial ties – Gordon 

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TAGS: chairperson Michael Aguinaldo, Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service , House committee good government and public accountability, House of Representatives, overpricing, Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., Philippine news updates, PS-DBM, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Senate, Senate blue ribbon committee
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