How P67.32 billion ‘deficiencies’ from DOH could have been utilized

August 16, 2021 - 12:50 PM
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A health worker transports an oxygen tank at a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) facility at Santa Ana Hospital, in Manila, Philippines,on April 9, 2021 (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The “deficiencies” spotted in billions of funds allocated for the Department of Health (DOH) the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged could have gone to additional health facilities, vaccine roll-out, cash assistance, and hazard pay for healthcare workers, Filipinos on social media observed.

Last Wednesday, the COA made an assessment on the P67.32 billion in its 2020 report on the DOH. They noted that its financial statements did not “present fairly, in all material respects.”

READ: What COA flagged in DOH’s handling of billions in COVID-19 funds

“With P67 billion, you can buy 109,836,065 shots of AstraZeneca priced at P610 each. That could have been 54 million Filipinos fully vaccinated,” an online user said

“67 billion pesos. it could have been used for mass testing, ayuda, vaccines, dagdag saghod ng mga frontlines and many more that can help the COVID-19 situation in the country,” another online user wrote.

As of August 11, 12 million or 11.1% of the country’s population are now fully vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippines started in March 2021 and the country aims to vaccinate 58 million people by the end of the year.

ALSO READ: Why gov’t should focus on jab rollout rather than face shield policy

Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago stressed how the allegedly mishandled funds.

“Sa P67 billion, kayang doblehin ang buong pondong nilalaan para sa Public Health Program ng DOH, 70+ DOH hospitals, Lung Center, NKTI, PCMC, at Heart Center!,” she said.

Another social media user tweeted: “673 million PPE sets. 110 million AstraZeneca vaccines. 28 million Pfizer vaccines. 16 million 24-hr RT-PCR tests. 15 million oxygen tanks. 13 million families aided w/ 5,000 pesos. 12 million hospital beds. The list goes on. That’s how big P67.323 billion is. Let that sink in.”

The surge of cases in the country this month once again overwhelmed hospitals, as healthcare capacity has reached moderate risk level anew.

The DOH said the agency is ready to answer all questions from COA’s report and will cooperate with any investigation the department may deal with.

As of Sunday, August 15, DOH recorded an additional 14,749 new COVID-19 cases, bring the total number of active cases to 102,748.