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Gov't COVID-19 vaccine purchases risk COA disallowance if DOH keeps seal on docs

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Gov't COVID-19 vaccine purchases risk COA disallowance if DOH keeps seal on docs
Filipinos urged to get booster shots to save 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines A health worker inoculates a resident with a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine inside a Catholic church turned into a vaccination centre in Manila.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit may issue a notice of disallowance on the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines if the Department of Health would keep the documents related to this confidential, the state auditing body’s chairperson said Tuesday.

While the DOH has asked the COA for an audit of the vaccine procurements, it has also invoked non-disclosure agreements with vaccine manufacturers to keep documents related to their purchase out from the hands of state auditors, COA chairperson Gamaliel Cordoba said.

“The Department of Health po at the time, Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III], wrote to us stating that they will not be able to provide these documents because they have an NDA or non-disclosure agreement with the suppliers,” Cordoba said as he faced a Commission on Appointments panel.

Cordoba said their legal office told them that the COA is not bound by NDAs, so their resident auditor will send a demand letter to the DOH for the documents related to vaccine procurement.

If this is unheeded, Cordoba said the COA itself will write DOH a demand letter.

“If after this, we still get nothing, we have to issue a notice of suspension and go through the process of notice of disallowance. This will continue along with other legal processes, which may include the issuance of a subpoena,” he said.

RELATED: What is a COA notice of disallowance and what does it do?

In its 2009 Revised Rules of Procedure, the COA defines disallowance as "the disapproval in audit of a transaction, either in whole or in part." 

Essentially, when a government transaction is disallowed, as it is either irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or illegal, the public funds used for it must be returned to the government by the people who approved of it.

COMMISSION ON AUDIT

COVID-19 VACCINES

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

GAMALIEL CORDOBA

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