SoCot LGU probes disappearance of hospital funds

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes told reporters this morning she has formed a special committee to investigate an employee and the financial transactions of the provincial hospital following the uncovering of alleged discrepancies in the hospital's remittance records for the month of June.

"We smell something fishy here because the transaction records involving the hospital's remittances showed some discrepancies and thetotal remittance was short by some amount," she said.

Citing an audit report from the Commission on Audit (COA), she said the hospital's total income remitted to the Provincial Treasurer's Office (PTO) for the month was short by at least P200,000. Fuentes said the remittances, which were done on a daily basis, were handled by a cashier of the provincial hospital.

The governor, however, refused to name the involved employee pending results of the ongoing investigation.

She said the cashier was immediately relieved of her duties by hospital chief Conrado Brana and Provincial Health Officer Edgardo Sandig when the alleged irregularity was uncovered late last month.

Fuentes said she directed the investigation committee, composed of officials from the Integrated Provincial Health Office and PTO, to carefully look into the transactions made by its cashier on behalf of the hospital for the last two years.

She said they would also check if the alleged irregularity only involved the cashier or if there are other employees who are behind it.

"I want to know if this is just the first case or if this is already some kind of a pattern," she said.

In an interview over the Radio Mindanao Network, Sandig confirmed that several employees of the provincial hospital are being "asked to explain" in connection with the alleged fund irregularity.

"May ilan dyan sa cash division na tinitingnan (There are several persons assigned at the cash division who are being watched)," he said.

Sandig said the employees manning the hospital's cash division were directed by COA to explain the discrepancies in the income remittances.

But Sandig refused to categorically say whether the uncovered discrepancies are part of a fund anomaly.

"We cannot make any conclusion yet because the investigation is still ongoing and we still consider those involved innocent until we can prove them guilty," he said.

Sandig said this was also the first time that they encountered such case and that the hospital has experienced any problem of such kind during the past several years.

He pointed out that their previous remittance records at the PTO were
all in order and have passed COA's regular audit.