The Commission on Audit (COA) guaranteed that the procurement of COVID-19 medicines in 2020 and 2021 will be placed under a special audit as sought by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Facing the Commission on Appointments (CA), COA Chairperson Gamaliel Cordoba said that aside from their constitutional mandate to scrutinize all government spending, including the COVID-related loans granted by the World Bank and the ADB to the Philippines.
Cordoba said the Department of Health (DOH) also requested the conduct of a special audit, saying it could not share documents on vaccine procurement because of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) the government signed with vaccine suppliers.
Earlier, Senator Risa Hontiveros confronted COA on the NDA, asking if it would insist on not revealing the value of vaccine purchases, which the government only estimated to amount to P300 billion.
Cordoba noted they were informed by the agency’s legal department that they are not covered by the NDA to look into the purchase.
Cordoba said the COA resident auditor has already been asking the DOH for copies of documents for the vaccine procurement, but they have yet to be sent copies.
If the DOH does not comply, the COA would issue a subpoena for the documents, Cordoba added.
Under COA’s 2009 Revised Rules of Procedure, the auditor may issue notices of suspension (NS) for transactions of doubtful legality, validity, or propriety to obtain further explanation or documentation.