‘Ghost deliveries’

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Soldiers confined at the V. Luna Medical Center are forced to buy prescribed medicines outside if the hospital pharmacy doesn’t have them.

This issue is included in the complaints this columnist gathered from some families of soldiers who were treated at the medical center of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But aren’t all medicines that are supposed to be given to the soldiers and their dependents free of charge?

Why does the V. Luna hospital pharmacy run out of medicines when it has a large budget for them?

I dug around and found out why medicines are in short supply at V. Luna: “ghost deliveries.” This means medicines are not being delivered.

Instead, some hospital officials are pocketing the money for the medicines.

One supplier who won the bid to deliver medicines to V. Luna was scolded by a minor official – whose initials are O.B. – for not following the “SOP” or standard operating procedure.

To corrupt government officials, SOP means bribery.

O.B. told the supplier that instead of delivering the medicines, the supplier should have converted them to cash.

“Tanga ka ba? Di mo ba alam ang SOP? Ang tagal mo nang nagsusupply sa V. Luna di mo pa rin alam ang kalakaran (Are you dumb? Don’t you know the SOP? You’ve been a supplier of V. Luna for so long and you don’t know how things are run here),” the supplier quoted O.B. as saying.

How do we expect our soldiers to risk their lives for “God, country and people” when they’re not taken care of when they are wounded in battle?

How do we expect a soldier to fight well when his mind is on a sick family member confined at V. Luna, who might die because there is no medicine at the hospital pharmacy?

*      *      *

Two of my brothers – Joseph and Raffy – were born at the Camp Crame General Hospital.

They were born free, meaning my father, an officer of the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC), didn’t spend a single centavo for hospitalization, doctors’ bills and medicines.

(The PC, by the way, is the forerunner of the Philippine National Police and was then one of the major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.)

Whenever any of us – my father’s dependents – were sick and needed to be seen by a doctor, a military doctor would come to our house.

The military doctor would then give the needed medicine for free.

That was true for all the families of soldiers, whether they were dependents of officers or enlisted personnel (whose ranks range from private to master sergeant).

I presume that back then, medicines for soldiers and their dependents were never touched, no matter how corrupt the system was at the time.

*      *      *

Several years ago, the Chinese General Hospital signed a memorandum of agreement (MO) with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to boost the morale of cops and soldiers.

The MO provided that soldiers or cops wounded in battle would be treated free of charge at the Chinese Gen.

The initiative came from CGH’s honcho, James Dy.

I wonder if the MO still holds.

*      *      *

A woman was caught trying to smuggle P1 million worth of shabu (meth) into the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Maria Kristina Antonio, 50, was promptly arrested.

Antonio was apparently not forewarned by her contacts inside the NBP about the changing of the guard.

She could have been doing it in the past.

*      *      *

Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, chief of the Philippine National Police, revealed that a ranking police official is under investigation for allegedly reassigning a policeman with a record of recycling seized drugs to the PNP’s Drug Enforcement Group (DEG).

The policeman, S/Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo, was later arrested by fellow cops for being involved in the storage of P6.7 billion worth of shabu, seized in Manila last October.

Azurin said he was withholding the name of the police official concerned.

Hey, what’s so special about that ranking police official that he could not be named?

If he had nothing to hold against that high police official, why did he have to reveal that there was an investigation?

Why hold the public in suspense?

If it was a low-ranking policeman, he would have been identified immediately.

*      *      *

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa revealed earlier that Sergeant Mayo was among the ninja cops (policemen who sell drugs they confiscated) he reassigned to Mindanao in 2016 when he was PNP chief.

If Bato had very strong evidence against Mayo, then why was he not eliminated during the campaign to cleanse society of the drug menace during the Duterte administration?

Ninja cops who recycle seized drugs are drug traffickers. They’re the worst kind of law enforcers.

The problem with Bato then was that he was choosy. The PNP under him killed small-time pushers but spared many drug traffickers.

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