PH not late in making PPE orders, but other countries just acted earlier – Duque
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines was not late in ordering personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health workers. Other countries with higher COVID-19 cases just moved earlier.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made this statement on Monday night during President Rodrigo Duterte’s briefing.
“On the purchase of personal protective equipment, some people think that we were late in purchasing these items. But as early as February we have already placed procurement orders,” Duque said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“We really just had a problem with the supply because at that time a lot of other countries had moved ahead of us, because they had more cases early on compared to us. So we waited for some time. In fact, what we ordered last February arrived only by March and April,” he added.
“It’s a good thing that we received donations from the World Health Organization because I myself represented the country and asked for help from WHO while our orders had not arrived,” he went on.
The lack of PPEs for health workers is one of the subjects of the probe on Duque and the Department of Health (DOH) initiated by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, as the inadequate protective measures have been blamed for the initially high death rates among health workers.
In a previous briefing, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementor of Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said that fewer health workers got COVID-19 — and those infected did not die — after giving hospitals the PPEs they need.
Recently, the Ombudsman has issued subpoenas to officials of the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management and requested documents that might be needed in the investigation.
In the Monday night briefing, Duque assured the DOH would immediately comply with the requests and answer the questions of the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the government’s response to the pandemic.
“Those are among the issues that we’re answering right now.,” Duque said.
In the same briefing, Duterte said that he would vouch for the integrity of Duque, along with the officials in the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
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