August 16, 2021

At a House hearing, Duque will explain the alleged ‘inadequate’ funding

Cagayan de Oro City is satisfied with Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque ll and National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.’s reaction to the epidemic, according to Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez.

Duque, on the other hand, must explain why the DOH’s Covid-19 pandemic response funds are allegedly inadequate, as revealed by the Commission on Audit (COA).

On Tuesday, the Director of the Department of Health will testify before the House of Representatives.

“Anyway,” Rodriguez said in a statement on Monday, “he has promised to account for all of the money and has stated that none of it has been lost to corruption.”

He wants Duque to give special attention to the many concerns about the payment of benefits provided by Congress to nurses and other health workers under the Bayanihan 1 and 2 legislation.

He said that the Department of Budget and Management has announced the release of PHP9 billion for government and private health care employees’ special risk allowance and hazard compensation.

“Can you tell me where the money is now? Has the money been delivered to the hospitals? Why are our nurses complaining that they haven’t gotten their hazard pay and special risk allowance?” Rodriguez, who represents Cagayan de Oro’s second district, agreed.

COA will also inform the House on the “deficiencies” it found in the administration of monies given to the DOH in 2020, according to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Velasco expressed optimism that the Congressional briefing will provide clarity on the debate.

“We want the facts straight from COA, and we are especially concerned since the monies implicated were among those allotted under the Bayanihan legislation approved by Congress last year,” Velasco added in a separate statement.

The briefing, he added, will enable House members to track the use of pandemic money and draft appropriate legislation.

“The overarching goal is to guarantee that the billions of pesos set aside by Congress for the Covid-19 response — as well as any extra money provided in future legislation — are used wisely and effectively,” Velasco said.

Before drawing any conclusions, he added, the House leadership would want to hear the DOH’s explanation of the COA’s audit findings.

According to Velasco, President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Department of Health to clarify the shortcomings detailed in the COA report.

COA found many flaws in the DOH’s handling of pandemic funding in its report, with P66.28 billion attributable to suspected non-compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

The audit committee subsequently emphasized that the report did not include any findings of money lost to corruption and that the Department of Health still has time to comply and remedy the situation.

The DOH has maintained that the money is accounted for, and it is actively working to resolve the COA’s compliance problems and shortcomings.

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