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HEALTH NEWS & INFORMATION
UNTAPPED MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FUNDS BARED
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on August 30, 2012, 8:41 pm

(By Rolly T. Carandang, 10:41 pm, 30 Aug 2012)

The Commission on Audit (COA) disclosed that some P1.7-million worth of pork barrel assistance from lawmakers for medical assistance remained untouched at the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC).

 In its 2011 report on the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), COA disclosed that 17 accounts containing P1.17 million Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) cannot be tapped because the donor lawmakers were no longer in office or have moved to another post.

This is lamentable, said COA auditors claiming that while hundreds of indigent patients are in dire need of financial assistance for their medical expenses, pork barrel allocations made by five senators and 12 congressmen at a government hospital have been classified dormant, including one that has been untouched dating back to 2002.

The list include former Tarlac Representative and now President Benigno S. Aquino III whose account still holds P1,209.13 and the late Anakpawis party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran with P17,224.27.

 Aquino’s PDAF allocation was placed in 2006 and became dormant in 2010 while Beltran’s started in 2008 and has been intact since February, 2008.

 The senators’ accounts were in the names of Francisco Tatad which still holds P58,425.58; Aquilino Pimentel (P34,834.08); Ramon Magsaysay (P83,545.98); Panfilo Lacson (P7,915.81); and Rodolfo Biazon (P500,000).

Other donors from the House include Speaker Feliciano Belmonte (Quezon City) with P118,417.54 and Reps. Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya), P19,086.77; Ismael Mathay III (Quezon City), P83,545.98; Federico Sandoval III (Navotas-Malabon), P24,513.12; Satur Ocampo (PL-Bayan Muna), P31,642.10; Krisel Lagman Luistro (Albay), P44,017.15; Roy Pilando (Mt. Province), P619.69; Ronaldo Zamora (San Juan City), P9,638.77; Renato Magtubo (PL-Partido ng Manggagawa), P90,093.70; and Augusto Baculio (Misamis Oriental), P47,541.45.

Auditors said the accounts that have remained dormant longest were those of Tatad (since 2002), Belmonte, Magsasay, Padilla and Mathay (since 2004), and Biazon (since 2006).

“Considering the length of time that these balances have remained unutilized, it appears that the purposes for which these funds were established have already been long accomplished. Further analysis showed that all the dormant PDAF accounts belong to senators and congressmen who were no longer incumbent,” COA pointed out.

Government auditors noted that while the PDAF allocations were duly covered by memoranda of agreements signed between the donor legislators and the PCMC, the MOA contained no provisions how the unexpended balance would be used beyond the legislators’ term of office.

“It was only in CY 2011 that MOAs entered into contained a provision that PCMC may utilize any remaining fund for the purchase of medicines and/or equipment needed for indigent patients, subject to the approval of the concerned legislator,” COA explained.

 However it called attention to an opinion issued on March 29, 2006 submitted to the Commission by then Budget Secretary Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. that “incumbent members of Congress may access the unutilized balance of PDAF of their predecessors if the allotment has not been obligated”.

 Based on this opinion, auditors said the dormant funds should have been made available to needy patients of the state-run hospital.

 To clarify the issue, COA recommended that hospital officials make representations with the legislators and their successors on the proper disposition about the unexpended PDAF accounts.


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