Hospital ‘ghost medicine delivery’ bared

AN official of a transportation group in Olongapo City deplored the medicine issue at the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital, a public hospital in the city, which was earlier reported by the Commission on Audit.

Emily Rosales, one of the transport group’s officials, revealed that when one of her relatives was confined at the JLGMH, she bought medicines from pharmacies outside the hospital but the patient was still billed for the medicines.

“Nagulat po kami kasi binili ko yung mga gamot sa botika sa labas ng ospital tapos nung nakita namin yung hospital bill, kasama sa pinapabayad sa amin yung mga gamot. Buti na lang naitago kung yung resibo nung bumili ako sa Mercury Drug kaya hindi nila naipilit na ipabayad sa ‘min,” she said during a public consultation with Senator Richard J. Gordon.

Since 2014, the Commission on Audit has repeatedly called the attention of Olongapo City and JLGMH officials to irregularities and anomalies in the purchase of drugs and medical supplies, with over P207-million purchases of drugs and medical supplies from 2014 to 2016 highly questionable. The CoA said the City Government failed to take action on its recommendations every year.

Based on the report, for 2014, CoA tagged P84.04 million of purchases of drugs as irregular. This ballooned to P93.92 million in 2015 and continued with P30-million purchases of questionable purchases in 2016.

“The above-mentioned deficiencies cast doubts on the legality, propriety, and validity of the disbursements. It also manifests inadequate internal control over the process/approval of the transactions. The intents and purposes of competitive bidding nor the alternative modes of procurement were not realized because it prevented the attainment of the best possible price advantage to the government obtained only thru open competition. It also manifested inadequately internal control over the process/approval of the transactions,” COA said in the report.

One of their findings, the COA report also said, is that Purchase requests, Purchase orders, and Sales invoices were issued on the same day. Even worse, in many instances, Sales invoices were issued prior to Purchase requests. This means that the drugs were purchased not in accordance with proper bidding procedures.

“The weakness noted in audit of almost all phases of the procurement created a cloud of doubt on the validity of the purchases made. Incomplete documentation including undated delivery receipts, inspection and acceptance reports,” the audit agency further noted.

The CoA saw possible collusion of bidders in the procurement of drugs because while there were seven bidders, there was really no element of competition since none of them submitted bids for the same items for the 42 items for bid. As a result, all participating bidders were awarded a share from the embedded contract through submission of incomplete bids or failed bid results.