OPENING REMARKS of Senator Joel Villanueva on the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing into the audit findings of the Department of Health
Mr. Chairman, my distinguished colleagues:
As we are on our 3rd Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, we want to remind the Department of Health of one of its mandates under Executive Order No. 102, to “assume leadership in health in times of emergencies, calamities, and disasters.”
Mr. Chairman, we are in the middle of the biggest health emergency to date. We need the DOH to step up and take charge. Issues pertaining to the mismanagement of government funds, including underspending, obligating funds without disbursing, and releasing of funds to various entities without sufficient documentation, among other issues, are unacceptable.
The DOH allotted an additional Php311 Million-worth of funds for the payment of Special Risk Allowances to 20,000 healthcare workers, and the DBM announced its release this week. Kulang na kulang po ito given that we have 488,800 health professionals, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Not to mention, out of the P9.02 Billion funds released by the DBM in June 2020, the remaining P2.09-Billion for Special Risk Allowances were undisbursed, which could have compensated over 70,000 healthcare workers. Nasaan ito at bakit P311 Million lamang ang maipapamahagi ngayon? In the first place, we would not be in this position if delays from both the DOH and the DBM did not hamper the release of these funds.
"We need the DOH to step up and take charge. Issues pertaining to the mismanagement of government funds, including underspending, obligating funds without disbursing, and releasing of funds to various entities without sufficient documentation, among other issues, are unacceptable."
Lastly, we reiterate the need for mass hiring of health professionals in the DOH's plantilla positions. In the previous hearing, Sec. Duque stated that there are 13,659 vacant positions in the DOH, but also revealed that 10,157 personnel were hired in DOH's Emergency Hiring under contract of service.
Paulit-ulit po nating sinasabi simula pa noong 2016 na dapat punuin ang plantilla positions ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno. DOH should expand its mass hiring in plantilla positions and give our workers security of tenure - hindi pwedeng 3 months lamang. Bigyan po natin sila ng dignidad na magkaroon ng seguridad sa kanilang trabaho.
Mr. Chairman, for the year 2022, DOH is proposing a P242-Billion budget, based on the 2022 National Expenditure Program, a 15.1% increase from its P210.2-Billion budget. Let me state, for the record, that the mismanagement of government funds by any agency, especially the DOH at this point in time, casts doubt on the quality and quantity of provision of much-needed health and social responses during this pandemic.
We look forward to listening to today's discussions.
Thank you and may God bless us all.