Capitol told to probe ‘illegal’ medicine loans

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By: Gerome Dalipe and Francis Allan L. Angelo

STATE auditors want the Iloilo Provincial Government to probe some officials and employees of a district hospital over the allegedly unauthorized lending of medicines to hospital personnel.

Specifically, the Commission on Audit (COA) asked the Capitol to create a committee that will conduct an independent investigation on the alleged illegal loaning of medicines, and non-issuance of official receipts by personnel of Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital (RTMDH) in Cabatuan town.

Auditors said tolerating this practice will burden the hospital’s operations because “revenues due to the hospital were not reported and deposited to its accounts.”

The practice will also deprive indigent or poor patients, who are the primary clients of Capitol-run hospitals, of medicines that are supposedly available in the pharmacy but were loaned to the employees and workers.

This practice also exposes hospital officials to criminal charges for violation of the Revised Penal Code.



COA, in its 2018 annual report, said the hospital employees should be investigated not only for unauthorized loaning of medicines but for unaccounted and unremitted collections of the hospital.

“This practice clearly showed breakdown of control since medicines were transferred to another entity without any policy or authorization from the hospital management,” read the COA report.

The issue stemmed from an anonymous verbal report received sent to state auditors stating that the pharmacy’s drugs and medicines were loaned to hospital employees and workers without procedures and proper authorization.

The auditors verified the information considering such practice violates Sec. 32 of the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual, which provides that internal control and measures on the use of government resources to ensure that resources that these are safeguarded against loss, wastage, and misuse.

It also ran counter to Section 305 of the Local Government Code (LGC) which mandates proper accounting of all local revenues.

After an ocular inspection, the auditors confirmed the hospital is indeed practicing the loan of medicines both to its regular and contractual employees.

The hospital’s administrative officer and accountant confirmed the practice, which they said to have been going on since they assumed their posts.

Such practice was made without approved policies and procedures, as well as proper authorization from the hospital chief, thus illegal, the auditors noted.

Likewise, payments for the loaned medicines were made through salary deductions, according to the hospital cashier.

The amounts deducted or withheld were then remitted to the pharmacist in full. But the amounts withheld were not reflected in the employees’ payrolls, per verification by state auditors.



The auditors also reconciled the collections remitted to the pharmacist and compared them to the amounts reflected in the official receipts for the months of February and March 2019.

Of the P30,503 collections, only P8,885 were covered by official receipts, the COA discovered.

The hospital accountant also confirmed that movements of the medicines inventory were not reflected in the pharmacist’s inventory report.

Likewise, the amount deducted from the PhilHealth shares and wages were not consistently the total amounts due.

“The foregoing practice exhibited a wide scope of authority and discretion of the pharmacist because the approval or consent of the chief of the hospital was not obtained,” read the COA report.



The hospital chief admitted the absence of the approved policies on the loan of medicines.

But he said that such practice was tolerated for “humanitarian consideration.”

The hospital chief reportedly assured to craft policies that would serve as guidelines for the loan of medicines.

But the hospital pharmacist reportedly stopped such practice during effective Feb. 22, 2019, after their management conference.

Although the practice was recently stopped, the auditors still want the Provincial Government to look into the case and take appropriate administrative actions against erring officials and employees, if warranted.

The hospital chief was primarily responsible for all government funds and properties under his jurisdiction, the auditors stressed.

Likewise, the formulation of internal controls which include policies and procedures to ensure resources are safeguarded against loss, wastage, and misuse is his responsibility.

“Hence, he cannot, on his own, decide to continue a certain practice, knowing that this does not have an approved policy, procedure, and control,” the auditors said.

The auditors also asked the hospital pharmacist and cashier to render an account of all the loaned medicines and related collections.

“The LGC clearly emphasized that all collections shall at all times be acknowledged properly and be accounted as local funds, unless otherwise provided by law. The practice of the Cashier, to withhold from the PHIC Shares or wages but not to reflect the same in the payroll or issue an OR and remitting the same to the Pharmacist was inconsistent with the LGC.

COA said the practice of RTMDH also exposed the management to criminal charges.

“Non-compliance with these pertinent provision of the LGC was tantamount to the commission of Illegal Exaction defined in Article 213(2)(b) of the Revised Penal Code, as failing voluntarily to issue a receipt, as provided by law for any sum of money collected by him officially. Hence, the existing practice should be immediately stopped.”