DEPUTY Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman on Friday sought an exhaustive review of the Department of Health’s (DoH) spending process after it failed to use the available P62 million budget to begin the site development and landscaping works for the construction of the Marawi City General Hospital.
“May pondo na, naging bato pa. Napakahalaga pa naman ng ospital sa panahon ng pandemya lalo na sa Marawi na hanggang ngayon ay di pa nakakabangon sa epekto ng digmaan noong 2017,” Hataman lamented.
This was the reaction of Hataman to the COA report flagging DoH for the reversion of some P62 million in funds intended for the construction of a general hospital in Marawi, which he described as of utmost importance in this time of pandemic.
Because of this, Hataman is calling for a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the spending process of the DoH – from appropriations to disbursement – and find out where and how the agency is failing in its mandate to implement important healthcare projects such as the construction of the Marawi City General Hospital.
“Tunay na nakakagalit at nakakalungkot ang balitang hindi nagamit ang pondo sa pagpapatayo ng general hospital sa Marawi. Isa na naman itong dagok sa mga kababayan nating patuloy na naghihirap dahil sa nangyaring giyera, sa pagka-antala ng rehabilitasyon, sa kakulangan ng suporta at ayuda mula sa gobyerno, at sa masamang epekto ng pandemya,” said the lawmaker and former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“The Marawi City General Hospital would have augmented the needs of the people in Marawi for quality healthcare. Maraming nasira sa mga pribadong ospital doon, at madali ding napupuno ang Amai Pakpak Medical Center. Pero dahil sa nangyari, delayed na naman ang construction,” he said.
“Maraming ngang ospital sa iba’t ibang lugar ang nagpapa-upgrade dahil sa pandemya. Itong Marawi General sana ay namadali at na-prioritize,” according to Hataman.
DoH is now under fire for “deficiencies” in the management of some P67 billion in coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) response funds, as cited by CoA.
The audit agency also flagged DoH for the reversion of P62 million for site development and landscaping in preparation for the construction of Marawi City General Hospital under the national budget for 2020.
“The failure of DoH to obligate and utilize P62 million that would have jumpstarted the construction of hospital in Marawi is just one of the many inadequacies of the agency that should have stepped up in this time of pandemic. Baka kailangan nang aksyunan ito at pag-aralan kung saan ang butas,” Hataman noted.
“Saan ba ang problema? Kulang ba sa tao? Hindi naka-adjust sa pandemya? Sa procurement ba may problema? O sa contractor? Mabagal ba ang approval o release ng pondo? O sadyang hindi kaya ng DOH? Sana rebyuhin ito ng Kongreso o Ehekutibo, o kahit independent third party,” Hataman asked.
The Marawi City General Hospital is envisioned to be a three-story medical facility with a cost of P290 million to build and situated in Datu Naga village.
The P62-million fund for the first phase of the project, appropriated for 2020, reverted back to the National Treasure because the DoH failed to utilize it. The remaining P228 million was appropriated in 2021.
“The mismanagement of the funds by the DoH has reached an alarming level. At hindi ito ang unang beses na bumalik sa treasury ang pera na dapat ay para sa Marawi, may P406 milyon na ang hindi nagamit. Kaawa-awa talaga ang sitwasyon ng mga kababayan natin,” Hataman lamented.
“Napakahirap na payapain at pakalmahin ang kalooban ng mga taga-Marawi dahil hanggang ngayon ay di pa sila makauwi, tapos dadagdagan pa natin ng masamang balita. Sa kaliwa’t kanang batikos sa bagal ng rehabilitasyon, bakit may ganito pang nangyayari?” he added.