Defensor says Hontiveros claims on overpriced PPEs are ‘baseless’
MANILA, Philippines—Anakalusugan Party List Representative Mike Defensor hit back at Senator Risa Hontiveros after the latter accused the Department of Budget and Management of overpricing in regard to the purchase of personal protective equipment.
Defensor said that Hontiveros’ claims are “baseless” and used it as a “smokescreen” to hide the same actions that the previous administration did under the presidency of Benigno Aquino III.
The congressman of the Lower House even labeled Hontiveros and the previous administration as “Yellows” who are only there to shame President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I think the ‘Yellows’ are trying to shame the Duterte administration to keep the opposition’s shortcomings in flagging anomalous transactions during the term of former President Noynoy Aquino,” said Defensor in a statement Saturday.
According to Defensor, the Department of Health at the time of Aquino purchased PPEs from Rebmann, Inc. at P3,500 per set in September 2015 and purchased another eight-piece PPE set with P3,684 a bunch.
These prices, according to the congressman, are 97 percent and 118% higher than the PPEs DBM bought during the COVID-19 pandemic that were priced P1,773.51 a set.
“Senator Hontiveros questions the alleged P200 overprice without proof, but she’s tight-lipped when her colleagues in the former administration bought PPEs at twice today’s prices,” said Defensor who also disputed Hontiveros’ claims that the government lost P1 billion in taxpayers’ money in purchasing PPEs from Chinese companies.
“Claims of overpricing are untrue. At the time of DBM’s questioned purchases between March and May this year, the Philippines and the whole world were in panic mode. Each country was scrambling for PPEs and facemasks and were fighting over limited supply. Even first world countries like the United States and Great Britain didn’t have enough protective gear for their frontliners,” said Defensor.
Hontiveros said that Chinese-made PPEs are worth P200 more than the average cost of PPEs by the Philippine General Hospital that pegged the prices at P1,200 and P1,500.
Defensor argued that there’s nothing wrong with procuring more expensive PPEs at the height of the pandemic.
“As the contagion spread and our frontliners were falling ill or dying due to lack of protection, government had to think and act fast,” said Defensor.
“It’s no secret that between March and May 2020 there was extremely high demand for PPEs. As the epicenter of COVID-19 at that time, China itself was prioritizing its needs over other countries. Following the law of supply and demand, it was expected that prices of protective gear would go through the roof. Since it was a seller’s market, governent had no choice but to bite the bullet.”
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