14 years after avian flu scare, ex-GSIS execs still get headaches

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    PANID does not do anybody any good.

    The avian flu scare happened 14 years ago but bad decisions made by top executives of the Government Service Insurance System at the time are still causing them major headaches today.

    In a five-page decision dated January 8, 2020, the Commission on Audit affirmed the liability of 10 former top officials of GSIS for the P25.13 million disallowance for the purchase of 476,300 capsules of Oseltamivir, an anti-flu medicine.

    Aside from being required to return the full sum involved, those responsible for the transaction will also face criminal investigations by the Office of the Ombudsman for possible filing of charges at the Sandiganbayan.

    Government auditors said the procurement was both excessive and unnecessary, noting that GSIS only started to distribute the capsules in 2009 – three years after delivery.

    By 2010, only 109,880 capsules have been used worth P6.15 million, leaving 366,420 capsules in storage and nearing expiry which wasted P18.98 million.

    “The ATL [audit team leader] and the SA [supervising auditor] issued ND No. 12-001-OE-(06) disallowing the amount of P25,132,367.28 on the payment for the purchase of 476,300 Oseltamivir capsules on the ground that the procurement of the medicine is unnecessary and not within the corporate mandate of GSIS,” the COA said.

    Held liable were Board of Trustees (BOT) officers Bernardino Abes, Winston Garcia, Jesse Andres, Daniel Gutierrez, Reynaldo Palmiery, and Jesus Santos; vice president for medical services Angel Concepcion Jr.; VP for general accounting Esperanza Fallorina; senior VP for administration Concepcion Madarang; and executive VP for Operations Consuelo Manansala.

    However, the COA cleared BOT members Esperanza Ocampo and Raymundo Lapating since they did not participate in approving the board resolution for the purchase of anti-flu medicine.

    In earlier decisions issued in July and August 2019, the COA junked the appeal of BOT officers Abes, Garcia, and Palmiery as well as a separate appeal filed by Concepcion, Madarang, Manansala, and Fallorina.

    “The procurement of medicine for the treatment of Avian Flu is a health-related function which belongs to the Secretary of Health who was designated by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the crisis manager for the Avian Influenza,” the COA pointed out.

    It added that the money of the GSIS is intended for social insurance to be used solely for the benefits of government personnel hence spending agency funds on something that is not part of GSIS mandate is “null and void.”