COA questions cash release to non-public health workers

·2 min read

THE Commission on Audit (COA) has flagged the Cebu City Government’s “irregular” disbursement of government funds amounting to P1.5 million to non-public health workers (PHWs).

In its audit report, the COA stated that the City Government granted a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) special risk allowance (SRA) to various personnel who cannot be classified as PHWs.

State auditors asked the City to submit a written explanation on why it granted SRA to non-PHWs.

If they find the justification to be untenable, the COA said officials who approved the payment will be held liable and will be required to refund the amount.

The COA found that some SRA recipients included carpenters, electricians, plumbers, accountants, administrative aides, as well as midwives, dentists and pharmacists, who may have been assigned in the Cebu City Medical Center, the Guba Community Hospital and main and barangay health centers.

State auditors said these personnel did not directly cater to or were in contact with Covid-19 patients, persons under investigation and persons under monitoring.

The Department of Budget and Management released a circular for the granting of Covid-19 SRA, “which shall refer to medical, allied medical, and other necessary personnel assigned in hospitals and health care facilities and who are directly catering to or in contact with Covid-19 patients, persons under investigation, or persons under monitoring.”

The City, in its response to COA, explained that the term “health workers” refers to all persons who are engaged in health and health-related work and those employed in health facilities, as stated under Section 3 of Republic Act 7305, or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.

In a press conference, City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. explained that the budget for the SRA came from the Department of Health (DOH) and was only downloaded to the City, which distributed it.

Casas also said some of the recipients were working in the City’s quarantine facilities.

“Just because they are not medical graduates, but they are working, augmenting our medical force, they will not be given (SRA)?” Casas said.

He said the City already submitted the list of personnel who received the SRA to COA. The list was attested by the DOH.

The COA has recommended that the City submit a detailed accomplishment report of the personnel to validate the SRA payment. (JJL)

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