Bong Go

Bong Go to DOH: Clarify COA findings, don’t lose focus on war vs COVID-19

August 13, 2021 People's Tonight 422 views

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go expressed support to the Department of Health’s (DOH) efforts in leading the country’s health sector in overcoming the ongoing health crisis.

He however reminded DOH to make sure that issues found in the findings of the Commission on Audit are immediately addressed so that these will not derail the COVID-19 response efforts and management of the pandemic situation.

“Walang dapat masayang lalo na’t patuloy ang ating pagbabakuna at pagsugpo sa pandemya. Bawat araw, bawat oras, bawat minuto, at bawat piso ay mahalaga dahil habulan itong laban na ito. Huwag dapat mawala ang focus natin sa tunay na kalaban — ang COVID-19, kasama na d’yan ang hirap at gutom na dala nito,” stated Go.

In a statement, Go appealed to concerned officials to clarify the issues raised in the COA report so that any and all doubts can be eliminated and the country can focus on fighting the pandemic.

“I appeal to the Department of Health to clarify further the issues found in the Commission on Audit’s findings regarding the use of public funds for the country’s pandemic response. Given that we are in a state of public health emergency, we should ensure that these issues are resolved immediately,” said the Senator.

He also reminded other government agencies to ensure all funds are used and safeguarded in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations.

“Bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Health, lagi kong ipinapaalala sa mga ahensya na siguraduhing nagagamit nang maayos at tama ang pondo ng taumbayan, lalo na ngayon na tumataas na naman ang (bilang ng mga) kaso ng COVID-19,” he said.

COA stated in its audit observation that they found several deficiencies in the management of some COVID-19 funds by the DOH. COA’s Audit Observation is not tantamount to guilt but should still be addressed to alleviate any concerns on the use of public funds.

“Trabaho naman talaga ng COA na siyasatin kung ginagamit nang wasto ng lahat ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno ang pondo ng bayan,” Go said.

He also clarified that it is part of COA’s functions to determine any deficiencies noted in the audit of accounts, operations or transactions. This would require the agency concerned, like DOH, to comment and submit pertinent documents in response to the COA observations.

“Kaya kung may ganyang mga isyu na kailangang sagutin, ipaliwanag na dapat ito kaagad sa taumbayan sa klaro, kumpleto at madaling maintindihan na paraan. Kapag naresolba ang mga iyan, mas matutukan natin ang pagsiguro ng sapat na gamot, bakuna, at serbisyo para makasalba ng buhay ng mga may sakit,” he stressed.

The Senator explained that while government agencies continue to work hard to help Filipinos overcome the health crisis, they should still always ensure that there are no irregularities in government transactions.

“Kaya para sa DOH, bukod sa pagsiguro na sapat ang ating mekanismo upang mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan, parte rin ng mandato ninyo ang pagsiguro na wala ni isang iregularidad sa mga hakbang na ating ginagawa,” he said.

“Naniniwala naman ako na buhay at kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino ang inuuna ninyo sa inyong trabaho,” he assured.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go called on his fellow government workers to remain focused on the work at hand so as not to derail the progress made in the hard-fought battle against COVID-19.

“Malayo na ang narating natin mula nang nagsimula ang pandemya. Huwag nating sayangin ang hirap at sakripisyo ng bawat Pilipino para maiahon ang bansa mula sa krisis na ito,” he said.

He explained that any delay in the implementation of government programs and aid to affected sectors would be detrimental to the country’s path to recovery.

“Kung may kakulangan man, dapat iwasto ito agad, klaruhin ang dapat klaruhin, at pagbutihin lalo ang trabaho dahil sa bawat piso at bawat oras na nakalaan sa laban kontra COVID-19, buhay po ang katapat nito,” reiterated Go.

In response to the COA findings, the DOH clarified that the Php 67.3 billion flagged by COA is accounted for. The DOH acknowledges the findings concerning these funds, and is currently addressing the said compliance issues and deficiencies.

“The Php 67.3 billion is accounted for. Wala pong kinurakot, inilaan natin ang mga pondong ito para sa ating mga kababayan. The flagged issues are being addressed by the DOH. Rest assured, that the funds allotted to the DOH are all spent for the procurement of test kits, PPEs, payment of HCWs benefits, salaries of HRH among others,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The DOH further explained that of the Php 79.7 billion COVID funds received by the agency based on COA reports, Php 68.9 billion was utilized as of December 31, 2020 for the COVID-19 response of the government. Moreover, with the enactment of RA No. 11519 extending the availability of appropriations under Bayanihan II, the Department was still able to utilize the unobligated balance for this year.

In the end, the DOH said it has always been transparent and cooperative to yearly auditing efforts within the government. Moreover, the DOH has always complied with the recommendations of the COA.

“Bukas po ang aming tanggapan at handa po kaming ipakita sa ating mga kababayan na tama ang paggastos ng kanilang mga taxes. We take our COA findings very seriously and have been working to further improve our processes and controls so that we can serve the public most effectively especially during this pandemic, ” said Health Secretary Duque.

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