THE Department of Health yesterday clarified that the P67.3-billion flagged by the Commission on Audit is accounted.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said they acknowledge the findings concerning these funds, and are currently addressing the said compliance issues and deficiencies.
“The P67.3 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,” he said.
Duque explained that of the P79.7-billion COVID funds received by the agency based on COA reports, P68.9 billion was utilized as of Dec. 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,” he said.
The DOH chief reiterated that the department 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,” he said.
In a related development, Duque, amid calls for him to resign, said his track record would show his good service in the government.
He also expressed belief that President Rodrigo Duterte had chosen him to lead the DOH because of his prior experiences in serving the government.
“Alam mo ang nag-appoint sa akin si Pangulong Duterte, inanyayahan niya ako andoon ako sa aking lalawigan, nanahimik at ako’y inimbitahan, inanyayahan ako na tumulong sa kanyang administrasyon. Dahil alam niya, matagal din akong nagsilbi. Naging Secretary of Health ako dati, naging chairman ako ng Civil Service Commission, naging chairman din ako ng GSIS, nakita naman niya kung papaano ako magtrabaho,” the health chief said.
“’Yung track record ko eh huwag naman sanang kalimutan, nanilbihan naman tayo nang maayos. Na kay Presidente ‘yan… Siya naman ang may ayaw na mag-resign ako ever since,” he added.
Some lawmakers have been urging Duque to resign due to alleged corruption issues within the DOH despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is not the first time that calls were made for Duque to resign as DOH Secretary. He was urged to resign amid the rising COVID-19 infections as well as the alleged corruption hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), wherein he is an ex-officio chairman.
Despite all these, the President had been firm in saying that Duque should not quit from his post, saying that he has full trust in him.