By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Commission on Audit (COA) in its 2020 annual audit report on the Department of Health (DOH) released last August 11, 2021, noted as either irregular, unnecessary, or excessive some P93.2 million worth of transactions by its operating units (OUs) in Western Visayas.
The P93.2 million is just part of the P557.6 million of Irregular, Unnecessary, Excessive, Extravagant, or Unconscionable (IUEEU) in expenditures in DOH units across the country.
The health department’s regional office, the DOH-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD), was tagged for an unnecessary expense of P1.08 million for catering services during their virtual meetings.
The COA said in their report that these “were not essential in the conduct of the activities, since the participants were in their respective workstations and performed their usual functions.”
Other DOH OUs in the region with flagged expenditures were:
-Western Visayas Sanitarium (WVS) in Santa Barbara, Iloilo;
-Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City; and
-Treatment and Rehabilitation Center-Iloilo (TRC-Iloilo) in Pototan, Iloilo.
Irregular expenditures were tagged to the WVS with a total of P25.8 million, which include:
-Commutable or cash payment of Meals and Accommodation benefits given to personnel contrary to DOH Administrative Order No. 2020-0054 (P13.95 million);
-Payment of Special Risk Allowance (SRA) contrary to Budget Circular No. 2020-2 and Department of Budget and Management (DBM)-DOH Joint Circular (JC) No. 2 s. 2020 (P7.72 million); and
-Payment of Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP) contrary to DBM-DOH JC No. No. 1 s. 2020 (P4.19 million).
The WVS also made “excessive” expenditure in overpaying P39,400 for undelivered 8 units of electric needle burner and syringe destroyer, which was not deducted from its procurement of housekeeping supplies worth P954,107.53 from Winegard Marketing.
TRC-Iloilo was found to have four irregular expenditures totaling P2.24 million, which include the following:
-Payment of Living Quarters Allowance to ineligible/unqualified officers and employees from October 2019 to June 2020 (P108,000);
-Payment of Water and Electricity Allowance to ineligible officers and employees from January 2015 to December 2020 (P59,500);
-Payment of SRA without legal basis (P1.5 million); and
-Payment of AHDP without legal basis (P574,090.65).
Payments of extraordinary and miscellaneous expenditures were also made to the Chief of Hospital of the TRC-Iloilo in 2019 and 2020 totaling P227,086.21 were also found to exceed amounts authorized via Republic Act Nos. 11260 and 11465 (General Appropriations Acts of 2019 and 2020), by P12,286.21.
Two irregular expenditures were tagged to the WVMC worth P64 million, which include:
-Payment of a private lawyer’s services as technical consultant for procurement activities, without conformity and acquiescence of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the COA (P225,000); and
-Commutable or cash payment of Meals and Accommodation benefits given to personnel contrary to DOH Administrative Order No. 2020-0054 (P63.78 million).
The COA said that because of the IUEEU expenses, government funds were “exposed to the risk of loss or misuse”, and remarked that they will issue notices of disallowance for the said transactions.
The audit agency recommended the Secretary of Health, who agreed, to direct OUs to comply with the rules, regulations, guidelines, policies, principles, or practices, and avoid IUEEU expenditures to prevent disallowance in audit.