Duque: No transfer of pandemic response funds to PS-DBM in 2022

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 2) — The Department of Health will not transfer pandemic response funds to the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) in 2022.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque made the assurance during Thursday's House hearing on the DOH's proposed budget for next year.

"Yes, your honor. We will do that," Duque said after Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez pressed him to commit not to transfer a single centavo to PS-DBM again because of allegations it bought overpriced face masks and face shields for the DOH in 2020.

Rodriguez insisted those working in the Health department should purchase the COVID-19 items themselves.

An audit report earlier flagged the DOH's "deficiencies" in its management of over ₱67 billion pandemic response funds for 2020. These include the transfer of ₱42.4 billion to procuring agencies due to the lack of "required memorandum of agreement and other supporting documents," according to the Commission on Audit. PS-DBM got around ₱41 billion, a portion of which was used to buy the allegedly overpriced supplies.

But the DOH has said there is no need for a MOA for the transactions since the items procured have been classified as "common-use supplies" due to the pandemic.

Based on relaxed procurement rules issued in March 2020, entities that will buy common-use supplies can directly negotiate a contract with a "capable contractor."