'Gov’t says there’s no money, but DOH funds were not used well' —Robredo

Published August 12, 2021, 1:41 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday, August 12, lamented the P67 billion in misused and unspent funds that state auditors found in the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 response budget since the government keeps on saying it has no money to procure vaccines, provide cash aid, and pay health care workers.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

The vice president has yet to study the details of the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report, but she has seen news report about it. Robredo said she already asked her policy team to look into it.

“Kung ano man iyon, iyon iyong nakakasayang. Iyon iyong nakakasayang kasi parati nating sinasabi na wala tayong pera, (Whatever it is, that’s regrettable. That’s regrettable kasi we always say that we do not have money),” Robredo said in a media interview in Quezon City.

“Hindi natin mabibigyan ng ayuda iyong lahat dahil kulang iyong pera, hindi natin nabibigay kaagad iyong hazard pay para sa mga health workers dahil kulang iyong budget. Iyong PhilHealth hindi pa rin nababayaran iyong ibang mga ospital dahil kulang iyong budget (We can’t give cash aid to everyone because we lack money. We cannot give hazard pay to the health workers because the budget is lacking. PhilHealth hasn’t paid the other hospitals because budget is lacking),” she added.

READ: DOH says P67.3 billion flagged by COA ‘accounted for’

The vice president was referring to several hospitals’ claim that PhilHealth has yet to pay their claims. According to reports, PhilHealth has a total liability of P28 billion.

Robredo said she’s saddened by the fact that there is money but this is not being spent well.

“And on top of it, alam natin na marami tayong utang ngayon. So iyong tanong, bakit tayo mangungutang kung marami palang pera na hindi nagagastos? Kasi kapag nag-utang tayo, every day na inutang natin iyong pera nagbabayad tayo ng interes (We know that we have a lot of debt now so the question is why are we borrowing if we have unspent money? When we borrow money, we pay interest every day),” she stressed.

On Wednesday, August 11, COA released its report that it found “various deficiencies” amounting to P67.3 billion in DOH’s funds. It said that such deficiencies led to “missed opportunities” in the country’s pandemic response.

READ: COA report proves DOH ‘chokepoints, incompetence’ in handling pandemic — senators

“Various deficiencies involving some P67,323,186,570.57 worth of public funds and intended for national efforts of combating the unprecedented scale of the COVID- 19 crisis were noted,” the COA report said.

“These deficiencies contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by the DOH during the time of state of calamity/national emergency, and casted doubts on the regularity of related transactions,” it added.