No overpriced purchase of face masks, face shields — Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ruled out corruption in the government’s purchase of face masks and face shields which lawmakers have questioned for supposedly being overpriced.
The Senate earlier this week raised suspicion over the face masks and face shields priced at P27.72 and P120 per piece, respectively, purchased by the Department of Health (DOH) through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) in early 2020.
Several senators also questioned the lack of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the transfer of funds from the DOH to PS-DBM for the purchase of the said items.
In a taped speech aired Saturday, Duterte said the items were procured “during the height of the COVID outbreak, when the prices of supplies skyrocketed due to scarcity of supply and abrupt demand increase.”
“I want to make it on record to the public and everybody that I and the Cabinet knew about it. Sabi ko go ahead and buy the things you need. Pandemic nga e. Sabi ko emergency ito. emergency hanggang ngayon,” Duterte said.
“Just to disabuse the mind of some people about corruption, it ain’t here at this time. I suppose that you are barking at the wrong person,” he added.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who was present at the President’s televised meeting with his Cabinet, said the prices of face masks and face shields then were “really uncontrollable simply because of scarcity.”
Former head of the PS-DBM Lloyd Lao recently broke silence about the issue, saying these face masks and face shields were the “cheapest” they could find then.
Lao also explained that a MOA was not needed for the transfer of funds from the DOH to PS-DBM since the items being purchased were classified as common supplies.
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