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Duque shocked by massive corruption in P8.1B barangay health stations project under Garin

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Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the corruption-laced P8.1 bilion school-based Barangay Health Stations (BHS) during the last two years of the Aquino administration.

“I have initiated an investigation on alleged irregularities in the procurement and implementation of the School-based Barangay Health Station Project. I tried to give the persons involved the benefit of the doubt,” Duque told reporters.

“I am beyond frustrated. I am saddened and disgusted that the Filipino people are being shortchanged by the very people who were supposed to serve them,” he said.

The BHS project, implemented by then Health Secretary Janet Garin, is supposed to establish a functional barangay health station, accredited by PhilHealth, in public elementary schools to provide access to primary care.

Duque followed up on the anomalies uncovered by the Commission on Audit on the release of BHS funds without validation and submission of financial document requirement through a task force formed in April 2018.

The COA Performance Audit Report said “the project establishing 5,700 Barangay Health Stations (BHS) in public schools in 2015 and 2016 was obstructed by ineligible and non-workable project sites that were not fully validated before project contracting and implementation due to absence of specific guidelines. […] Delayed and non-completion of the total BHS contracted again impacts on the procured equipment which remain idle or undistributed to intended school-based BHS.”

The DOH task force headed, by then Undersecretary Roger Tong-an, found out that only 200 of the 5,700 stations were completed and only eight have full documents.

Tong-an said most of the stations were still under construction while others could not be located.omission, which issued requests and subpoenas to aid their own parallel investigation.

Duque has also sent a formal request to COA to conduct a fraud audit of the BHS project, as well all other projects included in the P9.3 billion Special Allotment Release Order dated December 29, 2015.

“Heads will roll. Big names, small names, past and present. There will be no sacred cows. Heads will definitely roll,” he said.

“First order of business is to clean our house from within. I will continue instituting changes, including reorganization, in the coming days,” Duque said. ((PNA)