EDITORIAL: Ray Of Hope



Drama or not, Health Secretary Francisco Duque’s deportment during the most recent Senate inquiry regarding the expose on irregularities at the DOH involving billions of pesos justifies a more thorough sleuthing.


Truth to tell, DOH is not alone in the government bureaucracy long plagued by anomalies committed by well entrenched syndicates. Included in the list are DPWH, DENR, DEPED, DOTR, DSWD, PNP, AFP and others.


Topping the list is DPWH. That is why news about cracked roads, bridges, rip raps, airports and even collapsed school buildings and other government structures come by the thousands with most of them primarily attributable to the use of substandard materials. Many of them have been constructed by dishonest contractors in connivance with government officials, and of course with the resident auditors’ role either by commission or omission.


In many instances, politicians in power play an important role by influencing bids and awards committees courtesy of the ever existing practice of the much dreaded pork barrel system --- the very root cause why the legislature is a rubber stamp of the executive branch.


DEPED, DOTr, DENR and DSWD belong to the same category. Well- connected bureaucrats still hold sway in the over all operations of these agencies. True, new personnel with some degree of idealism are recruited. In the process though, instead of introducing reforms, they are influenced by the grafters and eventually not only join the fray but assume the lead role


Most prominent in the irregularities is the procurement of office supplies (medicine included), materials and heavy equipment during which under the table deals capped by rigged biddings become common. There are instances when the entire amount involved is chopped off into pieces just to circumvent the law on public biddings. In some instances the requirements to qualify are amended in order to favor certain parties.


History tells of instances when some heads rolled at the PNP and AFP due to irregularities in the purchase of highly valuable equipment crucial to the agencies.


DENR and DOTr are well known for irregularities in the grant of rights for exploitation of mineral resources in the case of the former and franchise to operate public utility vehicles, in the case of the latter. DEPED has never been free from the scandalous printing of teaching materials. DSWD wallows in the highly suspicious distribution of benefits for the poor.


In sum, commission of irregularities in the bureaucracy has become the “new normal”. But if ever the scandal engulfing the DOH is now rocking the entire interplay of concerned agencies, it is due to the COA expose of questionable operations, which has opened the pandora box that inevitably have linkages to the DBM, given the surprising “resignation” of erstwhile DBM chief Wendel E. Avisado, which has been accepted posthaste by President Duterte.


Avisado cited failing health attributable to Covid-19 for his resignation. How come that when other secretaries also tested positive of the virus, they were not made to resign?


The degree of moral depravity among some highly placed DOH officials in these times of pandemic is alarming, if not revolting, to say the least. Despite all these concerns, the bold move of COA in red flagging the highly scandalous practices in DOH offers a ray of hope.