Lawmakers ask COA for briefing on DOH handling of Covid fund


THE House of Representatives has asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to brief lawmakers on the “deficiencies” it discovered in the management of some P67.32 billion in Covid-19 funds entrusted to the Department of Health (DOH) in 2020.

Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco said he requested the COA briefing for House members to be hosted by the Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Probinsyano Ako Rep. Jose C. Singson Jr. this week.

Velasco said they would ask DOH officials to sit at the congressional briefing.

“The briefing would also serve as a venue for the DOH to explain and account for the pandemic funds mentioned in the COA report,” he said. “We want to get the facts straight from COA and we are particularly concerned because the funds involved were among those allocated under the Bayanihan laws that Congress passed last year.”

Velasco further said the briefing would allow House members to monitor the use of pandemic funds and develop corresponding legislation.

“The overall objective is to ensure that the billions of pesos Congress had dedicated to Covid-19 response—and any additional funds it provides in future legislation—are spent wisely and effectively,” the lawmaker said.

Audit observations

THE speaker said the House leadership would like to hear first the explanation of the DOH on the audit observations made by COA before making any conclusion.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself has ordered the DOH to explain the deficiencies enumerated in the COA report, Velasco noted.

In its report, the COA flagged various deficiencies in the DOH’s management of pandemic funds worth P67.32 billion, of which around P66.28 billion was attributed to non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations.

However, the audit body later clarified that the report itself did not mention any findings of funds lost to corruption and that the DOH still has time to comply and rectify any shortcoming.

For its part, the DOH said the P67.32 billion flagged by COA is accounted for. The agency also acknowledged the findings concerning the funds and that it is already addressing the compliance issues and deficiencies the COA pointed out in its report.

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