Lacson: Gov’t bought ambulances ‘overpriced’ by P1M each
Ambulances bought by the Department of Health (DOH) were overpriced by P1 million per unit such that the agency could have procured two additional units for every five that it purchased, Sen. Panfilo Lacson claimed on Thursday.
In an interview with Inquirer.net, Lacson said that under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the DOH, ambulances with complete medical equipment were acquired at P2.5 million each.
However, the senator said he checked with local governments that procured similarly equipped vehicles and found out that the actual cost was only P1.5 million for each ambulance.
“Isn’t it infuriating that one ambulance has been overpriced by P1 million? In other words, five would have been bought with that amount used to buy three, if you will compute it accurately,” he said on the news website’s program “INQSide Look.”
Lacson shared his findings amid the ongoing Senate investigation into the alleged overprice in the government’s purchase of P8.7 billion worth of face masks, face shields and personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of its pandemic response.
Still getting details
Asked for other details of the ambulance purchases, Lacson he was still gathering more documents to come up with “more accurate figures.”
“So far, the documents that we have show that the [DOH] purchased ambulance units (Nissan cargo van) including automated external defibrillator (AED) at P2.5 million per unit,” he said in text messages to the Inquirer.
But Lacson said he had learned from local government sources that the same vehicle’s purchase price was around P1.27 million without the AED, which costs P300,000 more or less, or for a total purchase price of P1.5 million to P1.6 million.
The DOH has to explain the P1-million overprice, the senator said.
Inquirer.net sought an interview with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III regarding Lacson’s allegations but has yet to receive a response as of press time.
Waste of funds
He did not cite figures on the total number of ambulance units involved in the alleged overprice, but noted that in the Calabarzon region alone, the DOH supposedly distributed 98 units.
“Usually, fleet purchases of vehicles have one extra unit for every 10 units purchased, so there you go,” he said, without elaborating.
Lacson said he was personally upset by the overpriced purchases since he was the one who realigned P8.68 billion from the 2021 budget to provide additional funding for HFEP.
“That’s on top of the 2020 insertion, or realignment, that I made [to the tune of] P1 billion,” Lacson said.
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