COA hits delay in completion of PCMC's cancer, brain centers for children

Published May 9, 2021, 5:51 PM

by Ben Rosario

Completion of six vital medical infrastructure projects financed by the Philippine Children’s Medical Center with over P776.54 million have been “significantly delayed”, prompting the Commission on Audit to recommend the rescission of contracts of defaulting contractors.

This was gathered as COA questioned PCMC officials for authorizing the payment of over P25.7 million covering professional fees of its medical staff in 2017 and 2018.

COA, in its recently-released 2020 Annual Audit Report for PCMC, also asked the PCMC management to address the non-payment by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) of a total 2,324 claims totaling P34.587 million due to ‘non-compliance with pertinent provisions” of the National Health Insurance Act of 2013.

“Six infrastructure projects with total contract cost of P776.546 million were not finished/completed within the specific contract time or target completion dates, thereby depriving the intended beneficiaries of the benefits had these projects been of completed in time,” the report prepared by an audit team led by Director Cleotilde M. Tuazon stated.

The audit examiners also noted that the PCMC has failed to install proper signboards for its on-going programs and activities.

Among the unfinished infrastructure projects were a four-storey Cancer Center Building; a four-storey Pediatric Brain Center and the construction of PCMC’s New Hospital Two-Wing, eight-storey building with basement.

Completion of the six projects were delayed from three to 19 months, COA said. Five of the six project, including the three buildings, should have been completed in 2019, months before a state of calamity was declared as a result of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Consider rescinding/terminating the contracts or impose liquidated damages on the defaulting contractor/s, if warranted,” COA told the PCMC.

In the same audit report, the state audit agency questioned the “propriety” behind PCMC’s payment of Philhealth professional fees to PCMC medical staff from July 2017 to December 2018.

Auditors cited the non-submission of pertinent documents, including payrolls, vouchers, receipts and invoices, to support the disbursements.

Further, COA also noted that “non-compliance tto RA 7875” has resulted in the accumulation of uncollected accounts from Philhealth and “loss of income of PCMC”.

Reacting to the audit observation, the PCMC management said it has no control on the reasons behind the “denied claims such as single period confinement and 45-days compensable periods”, pointing out that this is due to non-disclosure of such information by patients.

The PCMC also stressed that it has been exerting efforts to faciliate the processing of claims, noting that 683 claims have been refiled with Philhealth.

In the same audit report, COA called the PCMC’s attention over its inability to secure legal titles to three parcels of land that it had acquired from the National Housing Authority. PCMC fully paid for the P942.62 million purchase price of the real estate as early as 2017.