House committee on public accounts chairman Representative Jose Bonito Singson Jr. said the Department of Health’s fund transfer of at least P42 billion to the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS) is illegal.
“The transfer alone, I think is questionable. Definitely, it’s improper… inappropriate,” Singson said in an ANC interview. “There might be some basis for illegality because DBM has its own budget, DOH has its own budget.”
“It’s juggling funds… Congress approves funds directly to agencies who made the presentation… In this case, there were these funds that were approved specifically to the Department of Health… [Do] they have discretionary powers? they don’t…” he added.
Singson added this move should not be allowed.
He said the Commission on Audit would go “crazy” for auditing how the funds were used if they have been transferred from DOH to DBM.
In the Senate hearing, the DOH explained that they sought the help of the DBM in purchasing some supplies for the pandemic, such as face masks and face shields.
DOH’s transfer of funds to DBM ‘illegal – House panel chair
But some senators commented that there was no memorandum of agreement signed by the two agencies, and the materials purchased seemed to be overpriced because the face masks purchased cost P27 per piece while the cost of each face shield would reach P122.
The DOH insists that the items purchased are not overpriced and that the memorandum of agreement between the two agencies is not mandatory if the purchases are “common use items” or supplies used in the day-to-day operations of the government.
“At that time, SRP’s for these items were not yet valid. We were looking at a reasonable price existing at that time,” said DOH Director Paul Guimbarda.
But COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo opposed it.
“The purpose of the MOA is not just to document the money transfer but also to impose obligations on the entity to whom the money is being transferred,” he said.