Audit deficiencies in the Department of Health’s (DOH) management of some P67.32 billion in COVID-19 funds have been found by the Commission on Audit (COA) as it warned that such quesitonable handling of funds has triggered doubts into the regularity and propriety of transactions made.
In the 2020 Annual Audit Report (AAR) for DOH that was released on Wednesday, August 11, COA lamented that the deficiencies were “mainly caused by non-compliance” to pertinent laws, rules and regulations” by DOH.
These also “contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by DOH during the time of state calamity/national emergency.” In its audit observations, COA disclosed that at least P11.89 billion in funds for the COVID-19 measures have not be obligated.
Further, the audit team disclosed that donations-in-kind estimated at P1.405 billion have not been properly documented by DOH.
On the other hand, complete documentation and procedural lapses were found by auditors in transactions involving P5.038 billion in purchases. The state audit agency said violation of the Government Procurement Act were noted.
“Medical equipment and supplies procured for COVID 19 response totaling P69,942,628.00 remained unutilized or were not immediately utilized due to factors that could have been avoided had there been proper procurement planning, thereby depriving the public of the immediate use of the equipment during the pandemic,”CoA said.
According to COA liquidated damages amounting to P4.49 million have not been applied against the payments to supplies delivered default.
“Considerable amounts of unobligated allotments totaling P11,890,217,589.50 as of December 31, 2020 and aimed at strengthening the Department’s capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic and further buttressing the health care system was noted,” COA disclosed.
The audit team said this failure on the part of DOH has affected “the health care system.” Reacting to the adverse audit observation, DOH, under Secretary Francisco Duque, vowed to immediately comply with audit recommendations even as it noted that a “large percentage” of the unutilized balance comes from Bayanihan II funds.
Noting that DOH pinpointed to various offices as the culprit for the unspent COViD 19 funds, auditors reminded the department that “there is only one DOH under the Secretary of Health.” Audit examiners said the appropriated funds should have been used for the benefit o the health workers and the general public.
IN connection with the payment of COVID-19 to health workers, COA said failure of DOH to comply with laws and regulations int he grant of various COVID-19 allowances has resulted in the payment of P539.29 milllion to health personnel despite lacking docukmentary support.
On the other hand, P214 million have been distributed to “unqualified recipients while P6.4 million has been computed as the amount of overpayments.