'Will Malacanang-based PACC probe DOH, PS-DBM?' - opposition solons doubt

Opposition lawmakers have strong doubts the Malacanang-based Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) will investigate various irregularities exposed by the Commission on Audit (COA) against the Department of Health and the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS).

Makabayan bloc image

In fact, Makabayan lawmakers are not convinced the PACC can guarantee an objective probe into issues raised against the two agencies by state auditors.

The failure of the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a moto propio probe into possible existence of graft and corruption, or even plunder, has also been questioned by the progressive solons.

COA has disclosed that P67.32 billion in COVID-19 funds allocated to the DOH has been mismanaged.

On the other hand, the DBM-PS has been linked to overpricing of face shields and face masks that it supplied to the DOH.

Resigned Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, former head of DBM-PS has been sought by senators to shed light into the issue. Lao was reportedly a former chief of staff of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health.

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite noted that the PACC has been quite selective in taking up graft cases to be investigated.

“Hindi objectively set kung sino ang dapat imbestigahan, (Identifying who will be investigated is not objectively set),” said Gaite during a Makabayan bloc press conference on Thursday, August 19.

He noted that there was one instance when the PACC decided to investigate Vice President Leni Robredo, a critic of the Duterte administration.

Gaite was apparently referring to the probe of the vice president for supposedly competing with the national government’s efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak.

The PACC is headed by Commissioner Belgica who was recently included in the list of possible senatorial bets of the administration-backed PDP-Laban.

Meanwhile, Asst. Minority Leader and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas noted that despite the on-going public clamor to hold Health Secretary Francisco Duque and other DOH official accountable for the mismanagement of P67.32 billion in COVID-19 funds, the Ombudsman appeared to have distanced itself from the noise.

It will be recalled that shortly after the media reported on the 2020 Annual Audit Report of the DOH, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said his office will have to “await finalization and completion of the auditing process” before conducting an investigation.