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Drilon calls for impartial probe on ‘overpriced’ medical supplies

/ 10:28 AM May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday called for a “fair and impartial” investigation on the alleged overpriced medical supplies purchased by the government after President Rodrigo Duterte defended the Department of Health (DOH) on the issue.

“I hope the statement of the President does not in any manner mean to absolve (Health) Secretary (Francisco Duque III). I call for a fair and impartial investigation despite the President’s pronouncement,” Drilon said in a statement.

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“These are taxpayers’ money we’re talking about here – to the tune of billions (of) pesos getting wasted due to corruption or gross negligence,” he added.

During last week’s Senate hearing on the status of the government’s COVID-19 response, Senator Panfilo Lacson quizzed Duque over the procurement of “overpriced” medical equipment and supplies.

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The lawmaker had pointed out then that the same kind of equipment and supplies were purchased by the private sector for half the price.

Drilon also questioned the P8,150 amount to be shouldered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) under one of its COVID-19 test packages.

“The issue raised against Sec. Duque is not the expensive PPEs and equipment but overpricing DOH supplies and PhilHealth’s testing package,” Drilon stressed.

“Sec. Duque has been remiss in his sworn duties as a public servant that endangered billions of public funds. He has become a liability,” he added.

Several senators, as well as a group of private hospital administrators, believe Duque should be replaced.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said Duque still enjoys the President’s trust and confidence.

“I repeatedly say that any Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the President. If the President loses trust, any Cabinet member can be removed anytime,” Roque said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

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TAGS: coronavirus disease, COVID-19, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Nation, news, overpriced medical supplies, President Rodrigo Duterte
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