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Lacson on deficiencies in DOH's COVID-19 funds: ‘It's incompetence’

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said the history of anomalies in Department of Health (DOH), including the recent audit report on its deficiencies in COVID-19 funds, was a display of incompetence in the agency.

Earlier, the Commission on Audit (COA) found several deficiencies in DOH's utilization of the P67.32 billion funds for pandemic response. The DOH also clarified that these funds were already accounted for. 

"From dropping the ball on the US vaccines earlier lobbied by SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teddy Boy) Locsin and (Philippine Ambassador to US) Babe Romualdez,  to unrecognized Ph vaccination cards in Hongkong,  and now, the still unused P67.3B while health workers are crying to get their P5,000 Special Risk Allowance, it’s incompetence, incompetence and incompetence," Lacson said in a statement to reporters.

Lacson was referring to the controversy revealed by Locsin in December 2020, wherein he said someone "dropped the ball" in seeking a deal with Pfizer for 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The senator also previously bared that after talking with Romualdez, it was found that Health Chief Francisco Duque III allegedly failed to work on the documents that cost the Philippines to secure a delivery from the American-made Pfizer.  Lacson added that the Philippines could have gotten the deal ahead of Singapore, which is the first Asian country to receive the Pfizer jabs.

Duque denied that he dropped the ball on Pfizer, adding that an agreement was underway. Philippines secured the deal with the US firm only in June 2021.

Meanwhile, Locsin had also reported that Philippine vaccination cards were not recognized because it is not connected to a single source. DOH said a digitized vaccination card will be rolled out by end of August or September.—LDF, GMA News