MANILA — Irked by reports of corruption affecting purchases of personal protective equipment, PhilHealth coverage benefits and local officials feasting on special amelioration packages amid the health crisis, Senator Bong Go promised to go after perpetrators of corruption and irregular practices among unscrupulous officials.
“We should not allow corruption and abusive business practices to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of fellow Filipinos. The law is harsh but they must face it as necessary,” the former Special Assistant to the President said.
“In times of crisis, every peso counts. While government maximizes its limited resources, a lot of our fellow Filipinos have also lost jobs, livelihood and savings. We are fighting for survival, that’s the name of the game here but honesty to one’s job and commitment to serve the people is another,” Go stressed.
Go, who also serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said he is ready to conduct an investigation as necessary on the alleged overpricing of medical supplies, equipment and packages, including Covid-19 test kits, reportedly purchased by the government at a premium or being sold by abusive entrepreneurs.
He said that as a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, he has time and again reiterated that the funds made available to address the Covid-19 pandemic and the needs of our people at this crucial time must be accounted for – “up to the last centavo.”
Regarding the PhilHealth test package, he said: “I expect the management to continue reviewing their case rates. We will also look into this to make sure that PhilHealth rates are in order to get the best value at the least cost the government spends.”
He explained that concerned government agencies will be given the opportunity to explain their side regarding these allegations.
“Pero, kung may makikitang anumang anomalya, pananagutin natin ang mga opisyal na ito. Wala po tayong pipiliin, wala tayong sasantuhin,” the senator added.
He also warned private business not to commercialize the crisis situation: “Lahat po ng mga Pilipino ay naghihirap, huwag ninyo nang dagdagan pa. Huwag ninyo naman pong gamitin ang pagkakataong ito para pagsamantalahan pa sila.”
Go also assured the general public that their health and safety are being prioritized as we lay down measures and protocols moving forward.
“Allow me to also reiterate that targeted testing for COVID-19 is being conducted by the government,” he added.
“Tulad ng sabi ng IATF, hindi po pinipilit ang mga pribadong kumpanya na bumili ng sarili nilang testing kits kaya hindi po ito dapat gamiting rason ng mga abusadong negosyante na magbenta ng mga produkto tulad ng COVID-19 test kits na lampas sa tamang presyo.”
NBI to file cases vs corrupt officials
Go urged the law enforcement agencies, particularly the National Bureau of Investigation, to file cases against corrupt officials and private individuals against whom enough evidence have been found to hail them to court.
He commended the Criminal Investigation Detection Group of the Philippine National Police for looking into 169 cases against local officials involved in anomalies in the distribution of SAP packages to needy families.
The cases were filed by 307 complainants against 405 probable suspects, which include barangay officials and private individuals.
Out of these cases, 85 are still under investigation, nine are ready for filing, 74 were already filed in courts and one was endorsed to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The CIDG said the respondents are allegedly engaged either in manipulating the list of beneficiaries by including their relatives and unqualified recipients as beneficiaries, or by collecting and dividing the cash aid received by the complainants against their will for purposes of “sharing it” to other families.
“These subsidized aids, for many, ease their worries on where to get the money for their day-to-day needs. However, there are unscrupulous local government officials who took advantage of this program for their own benefit through their illegal schemes,” the CIDG said.
Senator Go urged the public to report any abuses by public and private sector to Office of the President via 8888 or through the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission hotline 09066927324 and email firstname.lastname@example.org, or personally to him.
“Ako po mismo magbubulong ng inyong hinaing kay Pangulong Duterte at sisiguraduhin natin na mapoprotektahan po kayo basta magsabi lang kayo ng totoo,” Go said.
“Sa simula pa lang, nagsabi na ako na tanging konsensya nalang natin ang makapagbabantay sa ating mga ginagawa lalo na sa panahon na naghihirap ang ating mga kababayan. Magtulungan nalang po tayo para sa ikabubuti ng kapwa nating Pilipino.” (iamigo/SovereignPH.com)