Duterte tells DOH: Reply to COA audit report


PRESIDENT Duterte ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to address the audit report which flagged its alleged “deficiencies” in the use of its P67.3-billion budget last year.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte issued the directive after the Commission on Audit (COA) released a report, which noted the amount concerned “remained idle” and was not effectively used for the procurement of supplies and pay for benefits of health-care workers during the pandemic.

“The instruction of the President [to DOH] is to answer the observation of COA,” Roque said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

“The President is keen to read the answers [of DOH] since the observations made by COA carry significant weight,” he added.

Roque said the President decided to “withhold his judgement” on the issue until DOH could hold an exit conference with COA to explain its position on the matter.

“The President is a lawyer and a former mayor. He knows not all the accusations or observations [of COA] will be sustained once the concerned agency explain its side,” Roque said.

Roque said the reply of DOH on the matter will become basis for the filing of cases against its possible erring officials.

Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned the alleged mishandling of DOH funds, which it said would have been used to improve the country’s response against the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), particularly the welfare of health-care frontliners.

“While health-care workers are sacrificing, DOH is wasting its funds,” KMU Secretary General Jerome Adonis said.  KMU called for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Duterte for  their “negligence and incompetence,” which it said led to the alleged mishandling.

Image courtesy of AP/Bullit Marquez

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