COA reports

Lawmakers influence ambulance purchases outside DOH plan – COA report

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Lawmakers influence ambulance purchases outside DOH plan – COA report
COA recommends that DOH take disciplinary action against those who don't adhere to the Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program guidelines

Legislators wielded their influence to secure the purchase of ambulances and medical transport vehicles (MTVs) for their respective districts in 2022, even though these were not included in the Department of Health’s (DOH) spending plan.

This revelation came to light as state auditors discovered that approximately 25% of P391 million, or P98 million worth of MTVs bought under the Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), lacked proper documentation or requests from the intended recipients, a crucial step for approval.

Upon review, the Commission on Audit (COA) learned that the acquisition of ambulances and similar vehicles was not even part of the DOH’s spending plan.

Auditors discovered poorly documented MTV purchases in several areas, including the Center for Health Development (CHD) in Bicol (P62 million), CHD in Calabarzon (P33.88 million), and Margosatubig Regional Hospital under DOH-Region XI (P2.5 million).

The DOH units explained to COA that they couldn’t provide allocation lists because these were supposed to come from the DOH-Central Office.

The COA noted that the DOH explained that the ambulance allocation list in the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) resulted from legislative insertions during budget hearings.

The COA also said the CHDs decided that the recipients, which are the local governments, would be notified of the required documents through stipulations in the deeds of donation.

In response to the COA, the CHD in Calabarzon reported that it had already submitted the required supporting documents.

Apart from lawmakers’ involvement in DOH procurements, the COA reported incomplete documentation in the purchase of MTVs by several CHDs. 

Auditors said this totaled P269.61 million, including the CHDs in Metro Manila (P12.27 million), Cordillera (P40 million), Central Luzon (P87.24 million), and Eastern Visayas (P130 million).

The CHD in Metro Manila said the matter was simply an oversight on the part of the local governments, and they had fully complied with the support document requirements by May 26.

In Eastern Visayas, the head of the HFEP unit clarified that local governments were not required to submit documents because they were already identified in the GAA.

In Davao, auditors reported a failure to prepare a site readiness report for MTVs worth P15.5 million due to the resignation of the personnel previously assigned to the task.

At the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), which is under the DOH in Region X, state auditors found that P5 million was allocated for non-medical vehicles, even though the funding came from the HFEP. 

The COA said this was attributed to a “miscommunication” caused by the unavailability of the requested vehicle.

In Western Visayas, the audit team discovered a lack of terms of reference in connection with the procurement of P2.5 million worth of MTVs.

The COA asserted that these shortcomings in the procurement and implementation of MTV projects funded under HFEP for 2022 reflected poor strategic planning and inadequate monitoring, which contradicted the state policy emphasizing the proper use of all resources.

As a result, the COA recommended that the DOH take disciplinary actions against health officials and employees who either refused or failed to strictly adhere to the guidelines for HFEP procurement. –

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