DOH: Lawmakers don't control medical assistance

Posted at 08/13/2014 1:46 PM | Updated as of 08/13/2014 1:46 PM

Assistance for patients came from revenues in Sin Tax Law - Garin

MANILA - Health Undersecretary Janette Garin said lawmakers do not have the discretion as to how the medical assistance program can be used.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Garin said the lawmakers cannot dictate how funds will be used in assisting patients.

"But if the question is, can they recommend? Yes, they can, but there are guidelines that need to be followed," she said.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio earlier used as evidence recorded interviews, including that of Garin’s, in an impeachment complaint filed against President Benigno Aquino III. Tinio said the government officials themselves have admitted to using the already declared unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 budget.

Garin was quoted as saying: "It was made clear to us that these funds are not DOH funds but are actually funds of congressmen who are there to assist their constituents."

In the radio interview, Garin said she has yet to get a copy of the recorded interviews to contextualize what really happened.

Upon closer look, the medical assistance program was, in fact, funded by the revenues collected via the Sin Tax Law, she stressed.

"The patients were submitting promissory notes. They said the funds were with us. After checking and confirming, we realized the medical assistance program came from the sin tax," she said.

She said there were outstanding requests made then by lawmakers for their constituents, even prior to the declaration of the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel.

"So if they (lawmakers) have patients who really qualify under the program, we absorb them,” she added.