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The saving message of the Gospel is most transparent when the sick is brought back to wholeness. In the healing of the sick the liberating reign of God is made manifest and the Gospel of salvation is proclaimed. This is made manifest in the ministry of Jesus, which gave a prominent place to healing. (UCCP Policy Document on the Healing Ministry, 2006)
We are appalled by the extent of allegations of misuse of government funds by the Department of Health (DOH) as unraveled by the Commission on Audit (COA). “The Consolidated Annual Audit Report for FY 2020 for government agencies was released on August 13. The COA website disclosed that they have findings of deficiencies involving COVID-19 funds amounting to Php 67.3 Billion resulted from the nonsubmission of documentation or supporting papers, which the DOH may still submit in compliance with the auditor’s recommendation.”
Furthermore, the article explained, “of the Php 67.3 Billion, Php 42.4 Billion consisted of fund transfers to procurement/implementing partner-agencies without the required documentation. There is no finding that this amount cannot be accounted for. The breakdown of the Php 67.3 Billion and the deficiencies found are clearly explained in Annexes IV and V of the Consolidated Annual Audit Report of the DOH.
The behavioral response of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III to the mass media inquiries about the alleged corruption turned awry, and his exasperation unmask his incompetence in managing the government’s agency at the helm of fighting the Covid19 Pandemic for the second year now. His complaint about the public disclosure of the COA’s AAR FY2020 as premature and unfair as this put the DOH in bad light, was refuted by former COA Commissioner Heide Mendoza saying, “it is not premature and in fact it is wrong to say that the report was merely an audit observation and the exit conference was not conducted yet.” She further elaborated that annual audit reports are only released after a lengthy process of coordination between the COA and the concerned government agency.
The allegation of irregularities in handling of DOH budget is not farfetched from the truth as the health hazard pay and other benefits of health workers in both public and private hospitals working for Covid-19 patients were not released. It was known that the DOH regional offices were responsible for releasing the benefits entitled for the health workers, but the funds were withheld for various reasons. The clamor of health workers for additional benefits to their meager remuneration is one of the symptoms of a bad condition of the Philippine Health Care System. The health workers, such as doctors, nurses, medical technologists, and others are frontliners who are exposed to the infection of the virus. A significant number of them have died due to infection and complication with underlying diseases.
As shepherds of the Church we are saddened and deeply concerned by these issues and would like to urge the government of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to:
1. Implement a sustainable and accessible health care system for the country that would benefit the poor people in communities that are vulnerable in contracting Covid-19 and other types of epidemic and diseases that can cause mass infection.
2. Hold accountable government executives and employees responsible or involved in mismanagement of financial and material resources and file appropriate administrative sanctions and subject to investigation or disciplinary action.
3. Provide decent pay for health workers, comparable to overseas employment to prevent brain drain of doctors, nurses, and other health workers.
4. Develop basic health care program in the local communities by increasing the ratio of doctors and nurses to population, which the 2017 survey shows only less than 1 or at measly 0.41 doctors per 1,000 population.
5. Replace inefficient and ineffective cabinet secretaries with competent and committed ones who will serve the best interests of the people and not just their own vested economic and political interests.
6. Provide adequate budget for the health care system by making municipal, provincial and city hospital well-staff with competent health workers and provided with necessary facilities and equipment that can accommodate anticipated number of patients in times of the pandemic and other health emergencies.
7. Support private hospitals that cater to the health care needs of the poor and marginalized.
8. Address the root causes of illness and diseases, which are economic marginalization seen in poverty situation, unemployment, landlessness and disparity in access to wealth and resources; political control of the ruling class that arrogates power to maintain wages way below the subsistence level and the lopsided economic priorities.
The UCCP has a healing ministry through its community based health program and the hospitals. The Church’s Mission Statement on the Healing Ministry (1987), declares that: While it is the duty of the State to provide health care, the Church has a moral responsibility towards the attainment of a wholesome and healthy life for everyone as God intended, recognizing that the art and science of healing is an integral part of the message of salvation. (The Healing Ministry, 10th GA, 2014, p.7).
This statement therefore exemplifies the UCCP declaration that in the Gospels, healing is regarded as a sign of the in-breaking of God’s reign and Jesus’ statement to the world that he has breached the defenses of Satan’s dominion on Earth. We pray therefore that the Filipino people will truly experience God’s healing and wholeness in our time and in the future. +
THE UCCP COUNCIL OF BISHOPS
August 20, 2021
Bishop Melzar D. Labuntog
Bishop Joseph G. Agpaoa
North Luzon Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Emergencio D. Padillo
Middle Luzon Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Joel E. Tendero
South Luzon Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Jerome C. Baris
East Visayas Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Feliciana P. Tenchavez
West Visayas Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Ligaya F. San Francisco
Northwest Mindanao Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Hamuel G. Tequis
Southeast Mindanao Jurisdictional Area
Bishop Arturo R. Asi
Bishop Jezer E. Bertoldo
Bishop Isaias L. Bingtan
Bishop Erme R. Camba
Bishop Ebenezer C. Camino
Bishop Constante D. Claro
Bishop Hilario M. Gomez, Jr.
Bishop Marino I. Inong
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza
Bishop Roel P. Mendoza
Bishop Jaime R. Moriles
Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua
Bishop Dulce Pia-Rose
Bishop Elorde M. Sambat
Bishop Anacleto G. Serafica
Bishop Jessie S. Suarez
Bishop Rizalino Q. Taganas
Bishop Modesto D. Villasanta
Please click this link for the downloadable file, Statement DOH Mismanagement of Covid-19 Pandemic Response