MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chair of the Committee on Health of the senate and Senator Panfilo Lacson said they have invited DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III and DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado in the senate, to clarify reported issues of overpricing in some medical supplies and materials.
Senator Bong Go said that in the spirit of transparency, they are convening the senate as committee of the whole on Tuesday, May 19, to listen to the Department of Health and Department of Budget and Management of the alleged overpricing issues and the new request of the executive department for supplemental budget to provide assistance to five million more families in the country.
Last week, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease recommended the extension of the Social Amelioration Program assistance to families who were not in the list of the first tranche of the program. The original target beneficiaries covered under the Bayanihan Law were 18 million poorest of the poor families only.
In a separate interview on Sunday, Senator Lacson said he would also ask an explanation from the DOH about the high procurement price of their materials. “Ang mahal mahal ng procurement nila. May datos ako from civilian groups na gumawa ng test at bumili ng materials nila na hindi naman mahal. Ang PPE ay doble ang presyo sa binili ng DOH kay sa private group,” Lacson said. A medical supply for instance that can be bought by the private sector at US$16 is procured by DOH at US$32.
In May 9, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Covid-19 announced that the government is procuring some three million personal protective equipment (PPE) from China for a budget of Php 20-billion or at the price of about Php 6,667 per set.
In a published report Sec. Galvez said there is no irregularities in the procurement of these medical materials and supplies. He is expected to be present during the session of the senate on Tuesday.
It could be recalled that in March, during an inquiry also of the senate of the price of PPE, the DOH said the price tag of the same set was Php 1,800. The set includes N95 mask, coveralls, gloves, head cover, shoe cover, googles, surgical mask, and surgical gown.
“Gusto kung malaman kung bakit nagkaganito. May krisis kasi at hindi tama na pinagsamantalahan pa for the opportunity ng iba,” Lacson further said.