MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Audit Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo affirmed that the 2020 audit reports did not state that any fund of the Department of the Health was lost to corruption nor did they show any indication that the medical supplies purchased by the Procurement Services of the Department of Budget and Management were overpriced.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go asked Aguinaldo to clarify this during a hearing by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Friday, September 17.
In his first opportunity to pose questions during the Senate probe on the use of COVID-19 funds, Go noted that the auditing process is still “ongoing” and asked the COA Chair to explain the observations in the report.
“Naglabas kami ng statement saying na wala naman sa findings that there was any money lost to corruption. Wala pong sinasabing gano’n ‘yung report. As noted, ‘yung sinabi do’n sa report is that there were deficiencies sa P67 billion in terms of documentation,” said Aguinaldo.
“‘Yung sa PS-DBM naman, ‘yung Annual Audit Report did not make any mention of overpricing … wala silang findings of overpricing. Ang findings nila were limited to the management of the inventories,” the COA chair clarified.
Go then asked how much progress the DOH had made in submitting the necessary documents and complying with COA’s recommendations in response to these findings.
“’Yung normal process talaga is, after the audit report is transmitted to the agency, they have 60 days to comply with some of those recommendations… So, that’s left really to the discretion of the auditor kung ano ‘yung kailangang ma-comply within 60 days o hindi,” explained Aguinaldo.
Aguinaldo reassured the Senator that such issues are usually resolved in due time as subsequent audit reports take into account the compliance obligations of the agencies. Aguinaldo added that the DOH has submitted an action plan to address their recommendations, the implementation of which shall be evaluated by the Internal Audit Service of the DOH.
“The resolutions on the different issues will come not all at the same time, one by one. But what’s important is may action plan na. Kasi ‘pag in-audit na ang 2021 Fiscal Year ng DOH, ang unang titingnan is compliance with prior years recommendations o itong mga recommendations na nag-submit na ang DOH,” he continued.
The Senator, who presently heads the Senate Committee on Health, also asked the COA head whether their audit findings show that purchased medical supplies were delivered and used as intended.
“Base sa review nila no’n nagche-check, nagta-tally naman ‘yung mga figures … Titingnan rin ‘yung mga documents – meaning ‘yung contracts and POs. At the time they made the audit, hindi kasi lahat ng documents na-submit pa. Pero may update na mukhang halos lahat ‘ata nag-submit na sila, so undergoing review pa ‘yon,” said Aguinaldo.
In response, Go underscored the need for the audit process to continue and any findings must be declared transparently to clear the allegations.
“Ang importante rito, aksyonan na kaagad… The faster you clear these issues, the faster we can move on … Dahil kawawa ‘yung DOH. ‘Yung iba diyan gusto lang pong magtrabaho kaya lang nagiging busy sila ngayon dahil nahusgahan na kaagad sila na mayro’ng pagkukulang… dahil dito sa COA findings,” said Go.
He lamented that accusations of anomalies without sufficient evidence yet have hampered the government’s efforts to fully implement the necessary COVID-19 response measures.
“Sana po’y pagkatapos no’ng 60 days na ibinigay n’yo, ilagay n’yo rin po iyong inyong findings kung mayro’n bang irregularities na nakita o naayos na ba o settled na ba. Para in fairness naman sa mga ahensya na nagtatrabaho at gusto nang makapagtrabaho. Kawawa naman silang nahuhusgahan kaagad sila,” he appealed.
The Senator proceeded to reaffirm that the Duterte Administration is committed to eradicating corruption no matter how hard it is. He vowed that he and President Rodrigo Duterte will hold any individual found guilty accountable in accordance with the law.
“If you are proven guilty of any anomaly, pasensyahan nalang tayo dahil hindi namin pinapalampas ni Pangulong Duterte ‘yan … kasuhan n’yo na kaagad. Ipasa n’yo na sa [Office of the Ombudsman]. ‘Yun naman ang trabaho ng COA, ‘yun naman po ang trabaho ng Ombudsman, ‘yun naman ang trabaho ng ating SandiganBayan. Kaya nga may kulungan tayo para ikulong ‘yung mga dapat ikulong.”
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