Resolution to investigate the irregularities on Barangay Health Stations

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate

RESOLUTION URGING THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON GOOD GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE REPORTED IRREGULARITIES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH’S P8.1B SCHOOL-BASED BARANGAY HEALTH STATION – TSEKAP PROJECT AND ITS IMPACT TO THE HEALTH SERVICES FOR THE PEOPLE

WHEREAS, based on the data of the Department of Health (DOH) in 2015, there were only 17,904 barangay health stations (BHS) or only 42%, out of the 42,029 barangays all over the country. Most of these existing BHS could not effectively deliver health services to the people because of perennial lack of personnel, medicines, equipment and supplies;

WHEREAS, on January 26, 2016, under then President Benigno Aquino III’s Kalusugan Pangkalahatan program, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by the DOH, Department of Education, and Department of Interior and Local Government to establish barangay health stations (BHS) in public elementary schools. On May 13, 2016, the DOH issued Department Order No 2016-1033 entitled Guidelines on the Implementation of the Project to Establish Barangay Health Stations in Public Schools under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program;

WHEREAS, the two-phased P8.1B School-Based Barangay Health Station – TSEKAP Project was advertised in July 2015, bidded in September 2015, and awarded to J. Bros Construction to build 5,700 BHS.There were questions on the basis of the bidding in September 2015, when the project did not have a budget in the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), specifically under the DOH budget. The 2015 GAA only allotted P1.135B for the construction, upgrading, expansion, repair and rehabilitation of 1,661 BHS nationwide under the DOH budget. According to the DOH Finance Officer Laureano Cruz the funding source of the project was a SARO (Special Allotment Release Order) released by Department of Budget and Management on December 29, 2015 in the amount of P9.3 billion. Yet, there was no specific funding source in the SARO, except for ‘regular agency fund 2015 GAA’;

WHEREAS, the contract for the first phase of the project worth P4.5 B was signed between former DOH Secretary Janet Garin and Atty. Juliane Jorge of JBros Construction on January 26, 2016. The contract stipulated that 3,200 BHS will be built within 240 calendar days. For the second phase of the project, 2,500 BHS will be built worth P3.6 B. Each BHS will cost P1.5 million. The P1.2 B “mobilization fee” (P668M for Phase I and P551M for Phase 2) was immediately released to JBros under the leadership of Secretary Garin;

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2018, JBros submitted its Notice of Termination of Contract to the DOH and demanded payment of P2.1B for its 429 BHS accomplishment for phase 1 and phase 2 of the projects. Yet according to DOH, only 270 BHS were built and only 8 have complete documents. In the Special Report by the program “Failon Ngayon” on June 23, 2018, it was shown that the reported completed BHS has flooring and foundation only, much more BHS were unfinished, and many others could not be used because of lack of equipment or severely dilapidated;

WHEREAS, based on Commission on Audit’s (COA) Performance Audit Report dated December 2017 on the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of DOH, “The project establishing 5,700 Barangay Health Stations (BHS) in public schools in 2015 and 2016 was obstructed by ineligible and non-workable project sites that were not fully validated before project contracting and implementation due to absence of specific guidelines. […] Delayed and non-completion of the total BHS contracted again impacts on the procured equipment which remain idle or undistributed to intended school-based BHS”;

WHEREAS, based on the same COA Report, “the non-completion of BHS in public schools adversely affected the procurement and distribution of 5,000 TSeKap Packages amounting to ₱175 million intended for the said BHS. These packages were delivered to ROs in June 2016. In addition, 5,700 units of weighing scale with height measurement amounting to ₱43 million procured in 2016 were also shipped/forwarded to RO’s in September to November 2016 and could not yet be distributed to the BHS in public schools”;

WHEREAS, the DOH under Secretary Francisco Duque III started its fact-finding committee after receiving the contract termination letter from J-Bros Construction in March 2018. DOH has requested the Office of the Ombudsman to look into the project. There might be some basis on complaints of government negligence as it took two years before DOH took notice of the irregularities and started its investigation. It should be noted that most of the implementation of the project were done under former DOH Secretary Jean Paulyn Ubial;

WHEREAS, the targetted 5,700 school-based BHS was just a very small fraction of the BHS shortage. Billions of public funds were allotted, yet the people ended up with nothing but half-finished, dilapidated and unusable BHS. While the government would not restore the P1.488B cutback in the maintenance and other operating expenses for the national and regional public hospitals for 2018, it was able to allot P8.1B for some unfunded project like the school-based BHS. The wasted P8.1B is even more than twice the 2018 allotment for the maintenance and other operating expenses of the 66 DOH-retained public hospitals of P3.743B. If the P8.1B was used to provide direct services in public hospitals and facilities or provide adequate equipment, supplies, medicine and personnel to existing BHS, it could have helped far more poor Filipinos;

WHEREAS,the irregularities in the school-based BHS, similar to the dengvaxia scandal, showed the utter lack of concern and grave neglect of government officials for the health and welfare of the people especially the poor. There is an urgent need for Congress to investigate the issue as such irregular projects and programs take away billions of pesos intended for the much-needed health services and harm the interest of the people;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Representatives Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the reported irregularities in the Department of Health’s P8.1B School-Based Barangay Health Station – TSEKAP Project and its impact to the health services for the people.

Adopted,

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