Fri. Sep 17th, 2021

The Department of Health (DOH) said it has been transparent on how it spent the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response funds.

(Photo Courtesy: Devex)

In a Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire maintained that there is no corruption in the P67.3 billion funds flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“COA has clarified this already yesterday that this is procedural and there is no need to accuse us of corruption because we are still submitting the needed evidence to show we already utilized this fund,” she said in Filipino.

Vergeire said the DOH was given until September 27 to submit the required documents and is now waiting for some of its units to complete their papers.

In a separate statement, the department said it would accomplish the requirements by next week.

“We are doubling our efforts to get these and we will not wait for that specific timeline to address the report already,” she said in Filipino.

“We just wanted to say that DOH has always been transparent. All the money that was provided for pandemic response is well accounted for. This P67 billion fund is well accounted for,” Vergeire said in Filipino.

Vergeire added that the DOH was able to use almost 98 percent of the funds provided since the beginning of the outbreak.

The DOH, on the other hand, is open to any investigation and is more than willing to share agency documents, she said.

“We are open to all types of investigation. Hindi po kami aatras diyan. We will not back down but I’m appealing to our citizens that before they judge, they should wait until all pieces of evidence are complete,” Vergeire said in Filipino.

“The DOH continues to work for our people and when it comes to money, we do not engage in corruption,” she added.

The state audit body, in its 2020 annual audit report, found deficiencies involving Covid-19 funds amounting to P67.3 billion due to non-submission of documentations or supporting papers.

However, in a clarification released on Friday, the COA said the report itself “does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost to corruption” and the DOH may still submit the required papers.

“As there are recommendations for compliance by the DOH, the audit process for the deficiencies pointed has not been completed. Hence, it is premature at this stage to make conclusions on the findings in the Consolidated Annual Audit Report,” it said.

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