According to the press report, the clinic was established by the Chief of Health on October 23, 2020, amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Obesity Center is the name of the clinic that the Minister of Health, Francisco Alabi, had founded on October 23, 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, along with a contractor from the same ministry that runs it, according to an investigation in Factum magazine.
According to the report, the clinic operates in a place where Koren Clinic is also located, where about five specialists from different health districts, in addition to Alabi, are working without any permission from the Public Health Council, the entity that regulates and grants permits to clinics after relevant inspections are carried out on The range of services, schedules, health services, lighting and ventilation conditions, as well as the management of biologically infectious waste.
The Obesity Center is a clinic specializing in weight loss, as evidenced by this Facebook pageAccording to lawyer Jose Marinero, whom Factum consulted, in this case there is no compatibility between the private medical practice of Minister Alabi and his functions at the head of the Ministry of Health, something that can even be understood as a clear inconsistency. of importance, which is regulated by Section 6 of the Government Ethics Act.
And not only this. According to the same report, Karen Rivas, the minister’s friend and partner in the bariatric center, was also a contractor with the ministry run by Alabi, having obtained contracts to manage the social networks of the National Hospital “Dr. José Antonio Saldana” in order to raise his image.
These contracts amount to $10,800 and were awarded in February and July 2020. But after reviewing the contract and checking what was posted during that period on the Facebook of the said hospital, it can be concluded that the activities agreed upon in the award. for the report.
In addition, these contracts were awarded under the free-management method, ie without a bidding process. Simply put, the contract was awarded to Karen Rivas without further analysis of offers or sellers.
According to Factum, neither Minister Alabi nor Karen Rivas answered questions to find out their own version of the Obesity Center, among which is knowing the Minister’s version of the hours he attends for his patients, being an official whose position requires long hours of work, in addition to whether he considers A conflict of interest exists for running a private clinic at the same time as he heads a department responsible for promoting public health policies, or if health sells services to the Bienestar Magisterial or Social Security.
This can be verified if the transparency portal of the various ministries has shared details about the public contracts that have been implemented so far in 2021, which they did not do, according to the publication.
Irregular purchases during the pandemic
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Francisco Alabi has been questioned and flagged by the Court of Accounts of the Republic for awarding him contracts and making purchases with direct public funds under an emergency decree issued by the Executive last year to set him up in the face of the pandemic.
However, a special examination conducted by the Court of Accounts, between March and June 2020, of procurement processes in the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Works, found at least ten violations that directly violated the procurement law. Public Administration Contracts (LACAP), including payments of up to $900,000 in non-Covid-19 related services, as well as payment of up to $121,000 for unfinished or unfinished works.
In all the objections made by the Court of Accounts regarding purchases during the emergency period (the decision was made on March 24, 2020) and on which I consulted the Chief of Health, the response was the same: “The requirements set forth in LACAP do not apply to purchases made during a national emergency, therefore, There is no legally attributable breach based on these regulations.”
This redundant reply, which can be read in nearly all of the objections raised by CCR auditors, was sent by note to the auditors dated December 14, 2020, in which it asserts that the irregularities cannot be ascribed to validity because it was not the institution that made the purchases, although The fact that the agreement “Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Hospitals in the National Network, Implemented by the Ministry of Public Works” obliges the Ministry of Health to verify and evaluate the procurement carried out by the MOP to ensure that they meet the technical requirements necessary to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.
Because of this series of infractions, both Alabi and the movement’s president, Romeo Rodriguez, were sent to court under file number CAM-V-JC-003-2021, already in Trial Chamber V since last February 9.