By Rey Panaligan
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a fact-finding probe on the P8-billion contract for the construction of 5,700 barangay health stations (BHS) in public schools nationwide in 2015.
Guevarra said the NBI may invite former health secretary Janette Garin and other former and incumbent Department of Health (DOH) officials in its investigation.
“The NBI may invite current and/or former DOH officials, including Sec. Garing to shed light on the issues involving the allegedly anomalous P8-billion barangay health station project of the DOH,” he said.
“I will leave it to the NBI if they will find it necessary to summon Sec. Garin and other officials,” he added.
The alleged irregularity, bared by DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, is also under investigation by the Senate.
Duque said that the project sites were not validated by implementing agencies and there were “problems from the level of planning, procurement and actual project implementation.”
He said that last March, the contractor of the project, J. Bros. Construction, sent a letter to terminate the contract for Phase 1 of the project and included a bill for P2.9 billion for 429 units.
At the same time, Duque said the Commission on Audit (COA) has been requested to conduct an audit and the Office of the Ombudsman has been asked to investigate.
During last week’s Senate hearing, Duque said more time should have been allotted in the project with the Department of Education and Department of Interior and Local Government.
Of the 5,700 health units, only 218 barangay health stations have been built with complete documents, he said.
Report ‘ghost’ BHS
In Congress, the chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Committee wants the public to report ghost or non-existent health stations in their barangays.
“Are there ghost barangay health stations (BHS) in your neighborhood?” asked Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel as he enjoined the public to report them.
“There is a detailed list of barangay health stations lined up for construction, completion and equipping every year. It is readily downloadable from the website of the Department of Budget and Management for all to see,” Pimentel said.
The itemized catalogue, including the exact funding earmarked for each station, forms part of the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA), Pimentel noted.
The Mindanao solon was responding to Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque’s revelation of alleged anomalies in the construction of 5,700 BHS worth a combined P8.1 billion, the contract for which was sealed during the previous administration.
Describing the fraud as “wide and deep,” Duque had asked both the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) to investigate the project. (With a report from Ellson A. Quismorio)