Even as it was not lost to corruption, the "deficiencies" involving P67.3 billion COVID-19 funds that state auditors flagged was still a governance issue, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday.
The Commission on Audit on Friday clarified that contrary to public belief, its 2020 audit report on the Department of Health "didn't mention any findings of funds lost to corruption."
Robredo, however, said that the fact that regulations on the management of COVID-19 funds were not followed would still make the DOH at fault.
"Kahit pa hindi siya nawawala, governance issue pa din na hindi susunod sa mga regulasyon," she said in her weekly radio program.
"Kaya tayo may regulasyon para maiwasan yung korapsyon. Kung hindi tayo susunod sa COA regulations, kahit pa hindi nawawala yung pera, ang daming questions kung bakit hindi tayo sumunod at nakaka-erode yun ng tiwala ng tao," she added.
Among the deficiencies that the COA found in its audit of COVID-19 funds are the P11.89 billion unobligated allotments as of Dec. 31, 2020 that were meant to strengthen the DOH's capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The commission said these deficiencies "contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by the DOH during the time of state of calamity/national emergency."
For Robredo, these issues could spell life and death for Filipinos needing medical assistance.
"At a time na grabe yung pangangailangan, bakit ganito? Ang daming buhay ang masasalba [ng perang ito]," she said.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to hold an inquiry on Wednesday into the deficiencies in the use COVID-19 funds under the DOH.
For its part, the DOH said the questioned P67.3 billion worth of COVID-19 funds were "accounted for."
"Wala pong kinurakot, inilaan natin ang mga pondong ito para sa ating mga kababayan. The flagged issues are being addressed by the DOH," said Health Sec. Francisco Duque III.