Cebu City execs say no gov’t funds used for ‘tuob’ kits
CEBU CITY—Amid mounting criticisms, the city government on Monday clarified that it did not use government funds in acquiring “tuob” or steam inhalation kits that were distributed to new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in barangay isolation centers.
In a press conference, city legal officer Rey Gealon, who is also the city government spokesperson, said the P2.5 million worth of tuob kits were donated by a supplier whom he did not identify.
“Not a single centavo from government coffers was spent for the tuob kits,” he said.
Tuob is the practice of covering one’s head with a towel or blanket to inhale steam from a small basin with boiled water infused with lemon, ginger, or eucalyptus.
Philippine Medical Association, an umbrella organization of physicians in the Philippines, earlier denounced the practice of tuob, saying it does not help kill viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
Records from the Department of Health showed that as of July 12, Cebu City had 7,439 cases of COVID-19, with 359 deaths and 3,788 recoveries.
A tuob kit distributed by the city government was worth P2,500. It included an electric water heater or steamer, steam gown, adult bath towel, two hand towels, a plastic chair and a water basin.
Many Cebuanos have criticized the distribution of the kits, saying these were too expensive and that the local government should have instead bought medicines for COVID-19 patients.Mayor Edgardo Labella said he was not aware of the purchase and that he did not sign any purchase request for the kits.
Gealon said the city’s bids and awards committee had prepared the documents for the purchase but this was struck down by Labella since the city government did not have funds for it.
“The mayor stood by his decision not to use government money for the tuob kits,” he said.
But the supplier, who reportedly did not have an idea about the mayor’s decision, already purchased the tuob kits.
“It decided to waive the payment and simply give them as donations to the city. Hence, it was given for free and no public funds were used,” Gealon said.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama, in a separate interview, said the council did not authorize the purchase of tuob kits but only approved a resolution sponsored by Councilors Jerry Guardo and Nestor Archival, requesting the executive department to study the benefits of steam inhalation for COVID-19 patients. INQ
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