P1B lost to overpriced PPE deals? File charges, Palace tells Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday called on Senator Risa Hontiveros to file appropriate charges if she has enough evidence to show that the government purchased five million imported personal protective equipment (PPEs) sets from the months of April to May which she tagged as “overpriced.”
In a televised Palace press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte himself has cleared the issue about the supposed overpriced PPEs.
He also explained that the government had “no choice” but to buy imported PPEs as local manufacturers are struggling to import raw materials to produce their products during that period when the purchases were made.
“Alam niyo pagdating sa overpricing ng PPE, nilinaw na po ‘yan ng Presidente doon sa isa niyang ulat sa bayan at talagang nagkaroon ng absolute transparency pagdating sa pagpurchase ng PPE,” Roque said.
“Isipin po natin pinurchase natin ‘yang PPE na ‘yan sa kasagsagan ng ating ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) at MECQ (modified ECQ) kung saan kakaunti pa rin po ang supply. ‘Yung mga panahon na ‘yun nagsisimula palang ang mga lokal na kumpanya na mag-produce ng PPE sa pamamagitan ng pag-angkat ng imported materials at dito ginagawa,” he added.
“So ‘yung mga panahon na yun wala naman tayong choice kundi bumili ng imported PPEs. So anyway, kay Senator Risa Hontiveros, bukas po ang Ombudsman, bukas po ang DOJ kung meron po kayong ebidensya magdemanda po kayo,” he went on.
Hontiveros earlier said the cost of the PPEs per the estimates of the Philippine General Hospital ranges from P1200 to P1500 but the sets procured by the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) from foreign firms cost around P1700 to P2000.
The opposition senator noted that almost three million out of the five million sets of personal protective equipment that the DBM bought were from Chinese companies.
“Isang bilyon ang nawala sa kaban ng bayan. (P1 billion was lost) This is one billion pesos that could have gone to more PPEs, especially during a time when an increasing number of our health workers were dying because of inadequate protection,” Hontiveros said.
“Crucially, the one billion pesos could have also been allocated to increase the salaries of our health workers,” she added.
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