By Ellson Quismorio
Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate on Tuesday filed a measure prodding the House committee on good government and public accountability to look into what he described as the P8.1-billion barangay health stations (BHS) anomaly.
The measure, House Resolution (HR) No.1978, highlights the unmet targets of a 2016 Department of Health (DOH) initiative for the construction of school-based barangay health stations dubbed “TSeKaP” (Checkup) project.”
The project was supposed to address the massive shortage in BHS in the country, which according to the DOH stood at 58 percent in 2015. That year, there were only 17,904 BHS out of the total 42,029 barangays.
“The two-phased P8.1-B School-Based Barangay Health Station – TSEKAP Project was advertised in July 2015, bidded in September 2015, and awarded to J. Bros Construction to build 5,700 BHS,” Zarate wrote in HR 1978.
The contract for the first phase of the project worth P4.5 billion was signed between former DOH Secretary Janet Garin and lawyer Juliane Jorge of J. Bros Construction on January 26, 2016. The contract stipulated that 3,200 BHS would be built within 240 calendar days.
For the second phase of the project, 2,500 BHS worth P3.6 billion would be built. Each BHS was pegged to cost P1.5 million.
“On March 13, 2018, J. Bros submitted its Notice of Termination of Contract to the DOH and demanded payment of P2.1 B for its 429 BHS accomplishment for phase 1 and phase 2 of the projects. Yet according to DOH, only 270 BHS were built and only 8 have complete documents,” the militant solon said.
Zarate also noted in his resolution a television news feature on June 23 wherein it was showed that “completed” BHS only had flooring and foundation done. The vast majority of BHS were unfinished, while others were severely dilapidated or could not be used due to lack of equipment.
“The targeted 5,700 school-based BHS was just a very small fraction of the BHS shortage. Billions of public funds were allotted, yet the people ended up with nothing but half-finished, dilapidated and unusable BHS,” he said.
Zarate went on to mention the Commission on Audit’s (COA) findings on TSeKaP Project based on the agency’s Performance Audit Report dated December 2017 on the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of DOH.
“The project establishing 5,700 Barangay Health Stations (BHS) in public schools in 2015 and 2016 was obstructed by ineligible and nonworkable project sites that were not fully validated before project contracting and implementation due to absence of specific guidelines. […] Delayed and noncompletion of the total BHS contracted again impacts on the procured equipment which remain idle or undistributed to intended school-based BHS,” he quoted the report as saying.
“The noncompletion of BHS in public schools adversely affected the procurement and distribution of 5,000 TSeKap Packages amounting to P175 million intended for the said BHS. These packages were delivered to ROs in June 2016. In addition, 5,700 units of weighing scale with height measurement amounting to P43 million procured in 2016 were also shipped/forwarded to ROs in September to November 2016 and could not yet be distributed to the BHS in public schools,” the report added.
Zarate said these details warrant a House investigation–in aid of legislation–on the reported irregularities of the DOH project.
“If the P8.1B was used to provide direct services in public hospitals and facilities or provide adequate equipment, supplies, medicine and personnel to existing BHS, it could have helped far more poor Filipinos,” he pointed out.