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By KIT BAGAIPO
The Bohol Chronicle

Two department heads of the city government snubbed a committee hearing called by a city councilor to shed light on the implementation of the Blue Card hospitalization program.

Kag. Anne Mariquit Derikito-Oppus, chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) committee on social welfare, called the committee hearing Thursday to conduct a query into the Blue Card program.

City Health Officer Dr. Antonio Porticos and City Social Welfare and Development Officer Teresita Villafuerte were both invited to the hearing as the key officials involved in the implementation of the program.

However, it was known that City Mayor Dan Lim disallowed the two department heads from attending the hearing.

In a letter to Kag. Oppus, the mayor said he does "not see the necessity for [the] personal appearance and to be away from their (Porticos and Villafuerte) posts" to attend the committee hearing.

"If the intention is only to solicit our opinions and views on the matter, that can be accomplished in writing," Mayor Lim said.

The mayor called the committee hearing as a "fishing expedition" on the part of Oppus which would only take away time from "doctors and social workers [who] have a lot of concerns to attend to…"

Lim told Oppus that the Blue Card program is "being implemented efficiently."

"Although there is always room for improvement, there have been no formal complaints against the implementation of the project neither has been any serious problem that needed immediate action," Lim added.

For her part, in a separate interview over dyRD, Oppus as social welfare committee chair, pointed out that her intention in calling for the hearing was to determine the extent of the coverage of beneficiaries of the Blue Card, the use and the availability of its funds.

Opus likewise cited the need for a regular reporting of its operations to monitor the project.

The lady-lawmaker said the city ordinance creating the Blue Card is self-limiting as to the illnesses being covered. She intends to recommend for an expanded coverage of the program.

According to Lim, the proposal for a regular quarterly reporting of the program to the SP is "inappropriate" seeing "no urgency to do so."

"The SP is not an internal audit department," the mayor stated in his letter, "The SP is a general overseer of the city government. The annual report therefore should be one that will be applicable to the requirements of the SP as a general overseer."

According to the mayor, "for a long time, nobody was concerned for the poor who were being refused admission to the hospitals."

"Just two years after I implemented the Blue Card program, suddenly many people know more about how to solve the problem," he said.

Lim told Oppus that he finds it "very suspicious that just a few months after the program was called a fake during the election campaign, your committee starts evaluating the program even though the complaints against it are mostly unverified and obviously politically motivated."

 

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