COA asked to present findings on Bukidnon hospital controversy

MALAYBALAY CITY(MindaNews/12 January) – The Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan has urged the provincial office of the Commission on Audit (COA) to provide its audit report or findings and recommendations to the alleged irregularities and violations of the procurement law related to the hospital controversy here.

In a resolution passed Wednesday sponsored by all the board members, the provincial board urged COA-Bukidnon to “come in and intervene on the matter.”

“It is imperative to avail the COA audit [report and the] result be adopted in the process of investigation and administrative proceedings in order to accord the parties speedy, accurate, impartial, and fair judgment,” the board said in its seven-paragraph draft.

They urged COA to provide its findings and recommendations “without prejudice to the continuation of the administrative cases now pending before the Provincial Discipline Committee.
The board said COA is the appropriate agency of the government that can assist the local government unit in exercising its fiscal accountability, control and management.
Allegations of irregularity resulted to the imposition of a 60-day preventive suspension issued on December 10 and an earlier filing of formal charges against four hospital administrators and the head of the Provincial Economic Enterprise Development and Management Office.

Gov. Alex Calingasan said in an earlier statement that the preliminary investigation report presented to the discipline committee by the special investigating committee “has uncovered in the course of its fact finding investigation several unauthorized transactions involving the use of hospital petty cash funds.”

The governor issued the suspension order 40 days after he charged nine officials of serious dishonesty in the course of official duties on October 31, in what senior capitol officials described as “one of the biggest controversies so far” in the history of the provincial government.
Vice Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr, who initiated the investigation amid reports of lack of medicines and medical supplies in provincial hospitals, told a press conference on November 7 that about P16 million worth of medicines and supplies were allegedly purchased using unauthorized petty cash funds, and P27.5 million worth of medicines and supplies were also allegedly bought with questionable bidding procedures.
He vowed to get to the bottom of the issue but assured the accused due process in the administrative proceedings.

Calingasan said the initial findings showed that the “nature and the gravity of the offense constituted grave dishonesty and misconduct due to conspiracy to violate the procurement system,” through “petty cash into credit system,” “unauthorized,” “overpricing,” “falsification” and other violations in the procurement process.

“This reinforces the previous findings of the offense of serious dishonesty in the conduct of official duty as contained in the report of the fact finding committee created upon the recommendation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,” Calingasan said separately in memorandums 1276, 1277, 1280, and 1281.

The governor clarified that a preventive suspension is not a penalty but “merely as a measure of precaution so that the official or employee charged may be removed from the scene” as the investigation proceeds.  

One of the respondents denied in an earlier interview the charges.

“We did nothing wrong. We just loaned money because there was no money to buy medicines,” the respondent added. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)