Hinamon ni Senador Panfilo Lacson si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na putulin na ang pamamayagpag ng mala-sindikatong gawain sa kagawaran gaya ng nakaugalian nang labis-labis na pag-iimbak ng gamot na kadalasang nasisira lamang.
Ang hamon ni Lacson ay Duque ay kasunod ng pagsiwalat ng mambabatas sa tinatayang P2.736 bilyong halaga ng gamot na nasira na o kaya nalalapit na sa pagkasira sa poder ng DOH, kung saan nasa P2.2 bilyon ay naitala sa 2019 lamang.
“We wasted P2.736 billion in taxpayers’ money. What’s the reason for this? Why are we overstocking? Why are we buying medicines near their expiration dates? What does this tell us? I’ve been an investigator all my life. To me, this indicates that there is probably a ‘mafia’ that is well-entrenched – can’t be uprooted,” banggit ni Lacson sa pagdinig ng Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
“Unless the leadership of the DOH will put his foot down and do something about this, we won’t see the end of this overstocking of medicines,” dagdag ni Lacson.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson on Wednesday challenged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to put his foot down against the “Mafia-like” activities behind the recurring overstocking of medicines and other irregularities hounding the agency.
Lacson issued the challenge during a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing where he cited figures showing overstocked, expired and near-expiry medicines amounting to P2.736 billion – including P2.2 billion in 2019 alone.
“We wasted P2.736 billion in taxpayers’ money. What’s the reason for this? Why are we overstocking? Why are we buying medicines near their expiration dates? What does this tell us? I’ve been an investigator all my life. To me, this indicates that there is probably a ‘mafia’ that is well-entrenched – can’t be uprooted,” he said.
“Unless the leadership of the DOH will put his foot down and do something about this, we won’t see the end of this overstocking of medicines,” he added.
Para makapag-focus sa pagsusuri ng panukalang badyet sa taong 2022 at sa mga “red flag” ng Commission on Audit sa ilang ahensya tungkol sa estilo ng paggamit nila ng pondo.
Ito ang mga dahilan ng pagbibitiw ni Senador Panfilo Lacson bilang Vice Chairman ng Senate Committee on Finance na pangunahing may tungkulin sa pag-aaral sa panukalang badyet ng pamahalan taun-taon; at bilang Chairman ng Finance Subcommittee C.
Ayon kay Lacson, ang mga huling pagpuna ng COA sa paggamit ng ilang ahensiya sa mga pondong ipinagkaloob sa kanila ay indikasyon ng lantarang kapabayaan at posibleng pag-abuso sa pondo ng pamahalaan.
“I trust that it is to the greatest interest of our people to once and for all, ferret out the truth behind these reports, put value to the oft-ignored COA mandate, and ensure that there will be no ‘sacred cows’ in making accountable those who have blundered the effective and proper use of public monies,” banggit ni Lacson sa resignation letter na kanyang isinumite kay Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson has tendered his resignation as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and as Chairman of the panel’s Subcommittee C, to give himself more time to focus on scrutinizing the P5.024-trillion budget for 2022, as well as to address the advent of red flags raised by the Commission on Audit in its audit reports of several agencies.
Lacson said the COA’s red flags indicate the “blatant inefficiency, unconscionable incompetence and worse, probable misuse and abuse of public funds in virtually the entire government.”
“I trust that it is to the greatest interest of our people to once and for all, ferret out the truth behind these reports, put value to the oft-ignored COA mandate, and ensure that there will be no ‘sacred cows’ in making accountable those who have blundered the effective and proper use of public monies,” he said in his letter to Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III.
Personal na sinaluduhan at hinangaan ni Senador Panfilo Lacson ang mga auditor ng gobyerno sa pagiging listo at maagap ng mga ito sa pagsuri sa kahina-hinalang transaksiyon sa ilang ahensiya na posibleng mauwi sa korapsiyon.
Ayon kay Lacson, kung walang Commission on Audit (COA) na nag-uulat, malayang-malaya ang mga tiwaling opisyal sa pag-abuso at paglustay sa limitado nang pondo mula sa kaban ng bayan.
“Imagine a country without state auditors… kanya kanyang kupit, kanya kanyang kurakot,” banggit ni Lacson sa pamamagitan ng Twitter.
First, the Commission on Audit is a constitutional body which is independent of the executive or legislative branches of government, and certainly not under the Office of the President of the Republic. It has a mandate to perform, and no one can dictate on them.
Second, COA findings and recommendations are public documents. Transparency dictates that the public must be informed of how public monies are spent.
That said, the President is out of line in publicly castigating the COA, which is just performing its mandate and responsibility to the people and the Constitution.
For its part, the COA should not be cowed by intimidating statements, even those coming from the Chief Executive. In fact, those in the COA should proceed with more vigor, courage and independence.
The issue on the DOH’s management of pandemic response funds will definitely be taken up during the deliberations of the DOH’s 2022 budget, once the Senate starts the hearings before approving their budget. This is among the many other issues hounding the agency.
That said, I remember that during DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III’s confirmation hearings at the Commission on Appointments, I asked him some questions on DOH’s supply chain issues and what he intended to do to resolve those issues. He could not answer my questions satisfactorily, if at all.
Am I surprised that he did not even bother to research in spite of his obvious lack of knowledge on the importance of the supply chain in his department? What gives? It’s hubris. He only cares about his boss, the President who, for reasons only they probably know cannot and will not remove him from office in spite of repeated calls from the majority of senators and other sectors.
Sadly, the issues brought to light by the Commission on Audit report, among others, shows that he doesn’t care about the health concerns of the people who he is supposed to serve.
At the hearing on the 2021 budgets of the Commission on Audit and Office of the Ombudsman, Sen. Lacson stressed the DBM has no authority under the Constitution to issue a discontinuance against a constitutional body such as the COA – after noting that the DBM issued a budget circular providing for the discontinuance of Programs, Activities and Projects (PAPs) of COA amounting to a total of P173M under the 2020 budget as they were categorized as congressional initiative and as “For Later Release.”
“My point is, Mr. Chairman, under the Constitution – particularly Sec. 5, Art 9-A, it provides for the automatic and regular release of the annual appropriations of constitutional commissions. And COA very clearly is one of three constitutional commissions, Comelec and CSC being the others. Of course even the judiciary,” Sen. Lacson said as he also cited jurisprudence (Bengzon vs Drilon, GR 103524), where fiscal autonomy allows the constitutional bodies and the judiciary full flexibility to allocate and utilize their resources with the wisdom and dispatch that their needs require. “So pag sinabi nating fiscal autonomy, walang pakialam ang DBM.”
COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo said that while they are okay with the DBM’s decision “considering the difficulties the govt was having with funding in view of the pandemic,” he would agree that “it’s a violation of fiscal autonomy under the Constitution.”
“I’d like to manifest this very clearly, let this not serve as a precedent for future issuances by DBM; huwag lang gawing precedent setting ito. If I may add, emergency or no emergency, hindi pwedeng precedent ito,” Sen. Lacson said.
At the hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Sen. Lacson questioned irregularities at the DOH and PhilHealth, including:
* conflict of interest
* toll manufacturing agreements entered into by Duque family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. and firms not accredited to deal with the DOH
* under-support payments
* collections for dead patients