Senate probes ‘questionable’ Covid fund disbursements


The Senate Committee on Public Accountability is poised to open today, Wednesday, its initial inquiry into the reported questionable disbursements from a P67-billion fund intended to bankroll government’s response to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also known as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, the committee is expected to grill Department of Health (DOH) officials on how they spent the over P67-billion counter-Covid fund.

This, as Gordon indicated that probers are also keen to verify reports on delayed payment of benefits of health workers.

In Gordon’s preliminary talks with medical frontliners to get a grip on the issues to be tackled at the hearing, the Senate chief prober was informed that health workers suffer from delayed hazard pay and special risk allowance, apart from food subsidy, transportation and accommodation for public and private health workers.

Gordon was, likewise, informed that the Commission on Audit (COA) had noted “deficiencies” in DOH disbursements from a P276-million fund intended for food, accommodation and transportation allowance for health workers.

To get a clearer picture, Senate probers also invited Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who confirmed his attendance in the scheduled hearing.

According to Gordon, he is not rushing to tackle the questionable use or none use of the pandemic budget by DOH because the agency is still being given a chance to answer the report of COA. However, he said, his peers have every right to ask questions related to this during the hearing.

Among those expected to appear and testify during the hearing are officials of the Department of Budget and Management, COA, as well as representatives of hospitals and health workers and PhilHealth, among others.

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