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‘Matter of life and death’: Robredo dismayed over DOH mismanagement of COVID funds

By Addison Pascua

PHOTO: ABS-CBN News

Vice President Leni Robredo expressed dismay over the Department of Health’s deficiency in its management of more than P67 billion for COVID-19 response, which she said endangers lives as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic.

“Pinag-uusapan natin ang mga ospital na hindi na kayang tumanggap ng pasyente, meron pala tayong P2.8 billion na puwede sanang gamitin doon. Ano ang epekto ng poor governance? Matter of life and death ito," Robredo said during her weekly radio program on Sunday.



"Pag may hindi nakainom ng gamot, hindi naka-dialysis, walang ospital na makakatanggap…, mamamatay yung pasyente. So 'pag 'di natin ma-manage nang maayos ang pera, buhay ng Pilipino ang magtaya,” she added.

According to Robredo, the improper documentation of funds is a clear governance issue as she has not made the assumption that funds have gone missing.

"Sa akin... kahit di pa siya (funds) nawawala, governance issue pa rin, 'di susunod sa regulasyon. Bakit ba tayo nagreregulasyon? Para iwasan ang korupsyon. Kung hindi tayo susunod sa COA regulations kahit hindi nawawala ang pera…, nakaka-erode ng tiwala ng tao.” she stressed.

The vice president also lamented the unobligated P24.6 billion and unreleased P4.7 billion amount of funds that could have been used to fund 6.5 million free dialysis sessions or purchase maintenance medicine.

“Ang daming may kailangan ng maintenance medicine, pero hindi nakaka-maintenance medicine kasi walang pambili. Ito dapat sana, ito ang kino-cover ng DOH. Dapat 'di maging dahilan ang kahirapan para di ka maka-inom (ng gamot),” Robredo pointed out.

Robredo likewise expressed disagreement over calls for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s resignation following the deficiencies found by state auditors in the health department, saying that “moving forward” is more important for the moment.

"Kasi kahit magbitiw, eh 'di naman magi-improve ang sistema, wala rin. Nasa gitna tayo ng pandemic, napakahalaga na maayos ang governance. Kung hindi..., buhay ng tao ang nakataya,” she stated.



In its 2020 audit report released on Wednesday, August 11, COA flagged various deficiencies in the handling of P67.323 billion pandemic funds by the DOH with state auditors noting that these tremendously affected the department’s response to the emerging health crisis.

"Various deficiencies involving some ₱67,323,186,570.57 worth of public funds and intended for national efforts of combating the unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 crisis were noted," COA said in its report.


Report sources: ABS-CBN News, CNN Philippines