The Department of Health is ready to face an investigation on how it spends its budget for pandemic response, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said Thursday in response to a challenge from Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao had called for an investigation into how the DOH uses its budget, as he accepted President Rodrigo Duterte's dare for him to prove his allegations of corruption in the government.
"We are ready na ipakita because that is also the duty and the responsibility of the DOH to give a report on budget utilization," Duque said in an ANC interview.
"If there is any hearing, we'll be very glad to be there and show a full accounting of all the funds or budgets that have been allocated to the DOH," he added.
Duque said that out of the P45.7 billion the DOH received under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, P44.8 billion was obligated or committed for payment, and P41.8 billion was disbursed.
For the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, P15.05 billion of the P17.27 billion that the DOH received was obligated, and P10.67 billion was disbursed, he added.
Duque also clarified that the vaccines that the government procures are paid directly by multilateral funding agencies, so the funds do not go through the DOH or other agencies anymore.
"Ang governance standards in the implementation of those contracts are really very high. Definitely, zero way that kickback can go through," he said.
Duque said he had these reports sent to Pacquiao's office for transparency. He expressed dismay that Pacquiao only raised these concerns now when he and other government officials involved in the pandemic response already presented these data in the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing last June 14.
"It's unfortunate that during the eight-hour marathon hearing last June 14 about the budget required for the National Vaccination Program against COVID, wala naman naitanong kahit isa tungkol sa budget," he said.
Pacquiao earlier said he was thankful to be given a chance to help the Duterte administration in its campaign against corruption as he assured the President that he was not a liar.