COA flags DOH over ₱3B unused COVID-19 response funds

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 7) — The Department of Health (DOH) had more than ₱3-billion unobligated funds for the management of COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported.

Of the ₱3.055-billion unobligated funds, ₱2.414 billion lapsed and was reverted to the Bureau of Treasury, the COA said.

The lapsed amount was meant for the compensation and benefits of healthcare workers, the Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 (HEAL) Program, and the Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project (PCERP).

"The lapsed unutilized allotments were counter-beneficial to the continuing efforts towards ensuring access to basic public health services of all Filipinos and more importantly controlling the spread of COVID-19 through provision of quality health services," the COA noted in its annual audit report on the DOH.

State auditors also pointed out that the national government entered into eight loan agreements with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank last year. Of the $2.225-billion programmed loans, only $1.319 billion or ₱66.051 billion was availed.

Further, the national government incurred an additional obligation amounting to $1.534 million, or ₱81.3 million, in commitment charges for the unwithdrawn HEAL and PCERP loan amounts as of Dec. 31.

"This additional obligation became part of the overall national government debt, which imposes a burden on the public. Furthermore, it deprived the public of the benefits that could have been derived from the projects," the state auditors said.

CNN Philippines has sought a comment from former DOH Officer-in-Charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire.