COA reports

COA: Municipal health officer can’t serve as university doctor

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COA: Municipal health officer can’t serve as university doctor

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Romblon State University hired the municipal health officer of Calatrava, Romblon as a contract of service campus physician. State auditors said this created a conflict of official functions.

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the Romblon State University for hiring a municipal health officer as its main campus physician.

In a 2023 audit report released on May 3, 2024, state auditors said the university’s hiring of the municipal health officer of Calatrava, Romblon, for the job is “illegal” as it creates a conflict of official functions.

The municipal health officer received a P20,000 monthly retainer from the university. He was on retainer for 11 months – from September 1 to December 31, 2022, and April 1 to October 31, 2023 – and was paid P220,000 in total.

The audit team deemed the retainer fee as an “illegal expenditure” as this is a form of prohibited hiring under Section 7 (b) (2) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Public officials and employees during their incumbency shall not engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions,” the provision states.

“Considering that the services of Dr. Menrige Jr. as the University physician were rendered during his regular working hours as MHO of the Municipality of Calatrava, the same was in conflict with his working hours in doing his official function in the University, thus constitute a prohibited act of a public officer,” state auditors said.

The RSU Human Resources Officer informed the audit team that they had no campus medical officer since 2018, leaving them no choice but to hire a contract of service medical practitioner.

University officials explained that the doctors served as Calatrava municipal officer but addressed the university’s health needs on an appointment basis after regular office hours.  They also said that university physician was aware of existing policies and performed his obligations “in good faith.”

The physician’s Daily Time Record showed that he served the university three to seven working days each month, logging between 11 and 44 hours. He also supposedly reported from 8 am to 5 pm.

The auditors said that municipal health officers are expected to provide daily full-time service to the municipality from 8 am to 5 pm, Mondays to Fridays.

“The services rendered at the University during said period were in conflict with his duties as MHO. Thus, the payments for the Retainer’s Fee as University Physician for the said period are considered illegal, hence disallowed in audit,” the auditors added. –

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