DOH's unspent and misused funds amid pandemic is height of criminal irresponsibility

The Communist Party of the Philippines denounced yesterday the Department of Health (DOH) and its secretary Francisco Duque III after reports of the Commission on Audit (COA) revealed that the agency had billions of unspent and misused funds from last year.

In the report, a whopping P101.34 billion was flagged by the COA and tagged as unused, misused and excessive expenditures. This included a sum of P67.3 billion deficiencies in Covid-19 funds with P11.9 billion unused funds for health workers’ risk allowance and hazard pay.

“It is height of criminal irresponsibility and neglect that funds for pandemic response have not been properly used by the DOH,” said CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena. “The delay and failure to release these funds is utterly contemptible and condemnable especially in the face of the health crisis, and in particular, the clamor of health workers for the release of these allowances.”

The audit also found out that billions allotted for infrastructure, equipment acquisition and public health service were unsued. A total of P24.6 billion could have been used for about 6.5 million Covid-19 test kits which can cover up to four months of testing at the current rate.

“The billions of unspent funds reek of corruption on grand scale,” Valbuena said amid Duque’s defense that the funds were not “lost” and will be properly “liquidated.”

“People are outraged over the mismanagement of the DOH of its funds,” he added. “While people were made to sacrifice during the lockdowns, the DOH, the main agency of the Duterte regime in this pandemic, has displayed gross inefficiency, lack of urgency and total disregard for the people’s health and welfare.”

Malacañang has put up an act today by saying it wants the DOH to present a “comprehensive” and “clear” response to the “serious” findings of state auditors. According to Harry Roque, Duterte’s spokesperson, the president has instructed Secretary Duque to explain.

“Duterte is sure to protect his favorite secretary, Duque, despite the reports, similar to what he did months ago amid clamor for Duque to resign,” Valbuena said.

“There is no future under a Duque-led DOH,” said Valbuena as health workers and other sectors renewed their clamor for Duque to be removed from the helm of the department. “Ultimately, however, it is Duque’s boss, Duterte himself, who must go,” he ended.

DOH's unspent and misused funds amid pandemic is height of criminal irresponsibility