Overpriced X-ray machines at BOC? Frustrated Gordon jokes about resigning as blue ribbon chair
Senator Richard Gordon joked about resigning as chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee after saying that the X-ray machines used in the shipment of magnetic lifters that have allegedly contained P6.8 billion worth of shabu (chrystal meth) could be overpriced by P4 billion.
Gordon, chair of the committee assigned to check on the accountability of public officials, was probing personalities on the alleged drug shipment when he cracked the joke, supposedly out of frustration.
“Ano ba tayo dito? Nahihirapan na ako. Magreresign na ako eh (What are we doing here? I am having a hard time. I will resign already),” he said in jest at the Senate hearing.
Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Deputy Collector for Passenger Service of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), said that the X-ray machines were procured in 2006 for around $4 million each, payable in 20 years.
The senator said the price could be too high, noting that the national treasury could have saved billions of pesos if the BOC procured the machines at the right price.
“Is it true that the COA (Commission on Audit) said that there was an overprice of P4.2 billion? Aray, another investigation ba ito (Ouch, is this going to be the subject of another investigation)?” he said.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) earlier claimed that the magnetic lifters allegedly containing the illegal drugs were shipped to the country by a foreign drug syndicate.
The BOC has since denied the claim. It later released images of X-ray results of the containers but said its machines cannot identify illegal drugs if it is wrapped in lead, foil, and plastic.
“Namimili ang gobyerno ng overpriced machines, tapos nakalusot pa (The government buys overpriced machines, but the illegal drugs have slipped into the country)?” Gordon said. /ee
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