COA casts doubt on pork for meds | Inquirer News

COA casts doubt on pork for meds

P29M spent on medical missions with supplier using different addresses
/ 12:57 AM September 29, 2013

UNICO

DAET, Camarines Norte—A supplier that used different addresses. Purchase orders for medicines that did not identify the medicines, their dosage and quantity. An attempt to secure receipts a year after supplies had been supposedly delivered.

Despite these findings by the Commission on Audit (COA), at least P29 million of public funds credited as pork of Rep. Renato Unico Jr. (first district, Camarines Norte province) was released for a series of medical missions in four towns of the province.

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In one case, the head of a village that was supposed to have benefited from the medical missions refused to sign receipts presented to him by Unico’s staff.

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Alexander Baylon, chair of Barangay Guinacutan in Labo, a town that was supposed to have benefited from Unico’s pork, said two staffers of Unico came to him on June 24 asking him to sign two bond papers with a list of medicines that he supposedly asked for.

Baylon, interviewed by the Inquirer, said Minnie Londres and Gilbert Villalon, staffers of Unico, came to see him at the village hall. He said he refused to sign the papers because these made it appear that he requested  the medicines when he did not.

The list that he is being made to sign included 90 boxes of antibiotics and 50 boxes of vitamins for his village of at least 1,000 people.

Londres, according to Baylon, did not insist on getting his signature but also did not leave a copy of his supposed request for medicines, which had been bought using public funds labeled as Unico’s pork.

Londres, in a separate interview, said what she wanted Baylon to sign was not a request letter but an “acknowledgment” of receipt of medicines used in a medical mission held in Barangay Guinacutan last year.

The letters that village chiefs are being made to sign, according to Londres, are acknowledgment of medicines used for a series of medical missions in Labo town last year. Londres said she was doing the rounds of village chiefs in Labo town to meet a requirement for her to submit documents proving that medical missions, tagged “Handog Kalusugan,” have indeed been held in the town.

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“I went there because I failed to let the barangay captain receive the medicines. It must be acknowledged that we conducted the medical mission,” she said.

Baylon acknowledged that a Handog Kalusugan medical mission came to his village sometime in February last year. Excess medicines, however, were taken back by Unico’s staffer, said Baylon.

What puzzled him,  Baylon said, was that it took a year for Londres to ask him to sign the acknowledgment receipt. “It’s like a personal letter requesting a list of medicines for Guinacutan,” said Baylon.

Londres would not answer why it took her a year to secure the documentation and liquidation of Unico’s pork supposedly spent on medicines.

But, Londres said, village chiefs in Labo town signed the acknowledgment receipts, except for Baylon. Londres said Baylon did not sign because the village chief and Unico are “up against each other in politics.”

In its website, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said at least

P29.4 million of public funds, labeled as Unico’s pork, or Priority Development Assistance Fund, had been released for medical missions in four of the five towns of Camarines Norte’s first congressional district.

The DBM released P14.5 million to the local government unit (LGU) of Capalonga town  on Dec. 13, 2011. On April 26, 2011, the DBM simultaneously released P5 million to each of the LGUs of the towns of Jose Panganiban, Labo and Paracale. The project beneficiaries are “indigents in the first district of Camarines Norte.”

Capalonga Mayor Senandro Jalgalado, brother of Unico’s mother, confirmed that the fund was received by the municipal treasury and that the project had been implemented.

But in its report on Dec. 31, 2012, the COA, in a report prepared by state auditor Teresita S. Borile, cast doubts on the transactions for medicines bought with pork for the local government of Capalonga town.

The report said it saw a “breakdown of accounting and procurement controls.” At least P14 million of Unico’s pork was spent on medicines “without complete documentation.”

The COA was not informed on time about the purchase and delivery of the medicines, which are perishable items.

“The actual inspection of the auditor was made on March 23, 2012, wherein the deliveries were no longer complete and allegedly were already distributed to the recipient barangay,”  the report said.

COA rules require reporting in 24 hours of purchases of perishable items.

The Dec. 31, 2012, COA report also noted that “the supplier used different addresses in various documents submitted, which cast doubt on the actual existence of such establishment.”

The report added that the purchase order for the medicines also did not specify the medicines, dosage, units and quantity as required by COA rules.

Request letters purportedly signed by village chiefs and municipal health officers are not valid proofs of regularity of the deal, according to the COA report.

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Mayor Jalgalado confirmed that the COA team was requesting documents on the project and was unaware if there was compliance with the request. He admitted that questions raised by the COA had yet to be answered.

TAGS: COA, Congress, PDAF, Pork barrel

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