Department of Health

Duterte ‘withholding judgment’ on COA findings until DOH responds

Pia Ranada
Duterte ‘withholding judgment’ on COA findings until DOH responds

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police command conference at the Malacañan Palace on August 4, 2021. ARMAN BAYLON/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang concedes the COA observations are 'serious' and that President Duterte is 'keen' to know the DOH's response

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte will not yet comment on the Commission on Audit’s findings of deficiencies in the Department of Health’s spending until the agency responds to the accusations.

“The President is withholding judgment until after the DOH submits its comments for the exit conference and for COA to make its final report,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said during a press conference on Thursday, August 12,

“It’s still premature. DOH will still respond. The President is keen to read the answers because the observations of COA are serious,” said Roque.

The President has instructed the DOH to provide a good explanation to the COA on the findings, which include “various deficiencies” amounting to P67.3 billion in the health department’s funds that impacted pandemic response and P95 million worth of expired or idle drugs and medicines.

The Duterte spokesman promised there would be “no sacred cows” in the administration.

But Roque also said that the President knows that some COA observations could be sufficiently addressed by agencies. If not, this would lead to an unfavorable COA final report which could then serve as basis “for the filing of cases.”

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said the funds had been “fully accounted for,” having been spent on the procurement of test kits, personal protective equipment, payment of health care workers’ benefits, salaries of human resources for health, among others.

Duque said the DOH is open and ready to show the public how the funds were used. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.