KIDAPAWAN CITY -- North Cotabato Governor Lala Talinio-Mendoza has ordered a probe on a foreign-funded health project, which started almost four years ago, to check if it served its purpose.

The project, funded by the European Commission, was aimed at helping the Provincial Government upgrade the health facilities of at least eight government hospitals located at different towns in North Cotabato, including the Cotabato Provincial Hospital here, the governor was told.

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But of the P7 million spent for the project since 2005, Mendoza said more than 70 percent of it was spent for the training alone.

Dr. Ray Catague, provincial health officer of North Cotabato who was the one that designed the program, said training the health workers makes them "technically capable", which is one of the main objectives of the project.

Part of the funding, Catague said, also went to the municipal local government units (LGUs) as assistance to their health centers. A considerable sum of money was allotted to purchase of health facilities.

But, Catague has refused to give categorical answer as to how the funding was spent as he was already out of the project after the approval of the grant.

"In fact, the project is set to end this year. I was only back in my job as the head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) late 2009," said Catague.

When the project started, Catague was replaced by Dr. Rod Escudero as the Integrated Provincial Health Office (Ipho) chief. After Escudero ran as member of the Provincial Board in 2007, Dr. Eva Rabaya took his place until late 2009.

Catague said they will meet Mendoza on Monday to discuss the issue.

"I want everything in order, including the health programs of the Provincial Government to check whether we're giving the people the services due them," Mendoza said.

When Mendoza assumed the gubernatorial post in June 30, she uncovered some P40 million in unliquidated cash advances; and some 98 million of suspicious loan accounts.

Mendoza said the financial audit and inventory of government facilities, which started a week ago, will continue until "everything's in place." (Malu Cadelina Manar)