Lacson hits gov’t ‘plundemic’
Sen. Panfilo Lacson aired the disgust of Filipinos over allegations of massive corruption in the government amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, which netizens coined as “plundemic,” following his latest revelations on the supposed overprice of ambulances by over P1 million each.
Lacson rejected justifications made by the Department of Health (DOH) denying the alleged overprice, and that what he has been comparing all along between ambulances bought by the agency and those by local governments are purportedly of different kinds.
Nerve to steal
“We have gotten numerous reports, especially about the pandemic [response]. Our informants are in disbelief how some crooks can still find the nerve to steal in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.
“Netizens have come up with a word for it: plundemic,” he said in a radio interview.
The word is apparently a combination of the words plunder and pandemic. The law defines plunder as the crime committed by a public officer who acquires ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million through a series of illegal acts, including graft and corruption.
According to Lacson, he was provided documents that showed that the ambulances bought by the DOH for P2.5 million cost only about P1.5 million.
“Officials of one [local government] admitted they were given three ambulance units by the DOH. Due to the need, and because they also became curious, they looked into the acceptance ledger, where they saw the declared price of the units,” he said.
The revelations on the allegedly overpriced ambulances come on the heels of the findings of the Commission on Audit on the alleged misuse of pandemic funds by the DOH, including P42 billion bought with “overpriced” face masks, face shields, personal protective equipment and other pandemic items.
Lacson did not buy the DOH defense on the ambulances that the prices of which he compared were not the same.
“How can these be different when the local government units merely copied the specifications of what the DOH bought? They were Nissan cargo vans. Our sources looked at the technical details and they are the same,” he said.
Some recipient local governments bought ambulances with their own funds for about P1.1 million, and fitted these with all the equipment needed for P300,000; so the total cost would be P1.45 million, he said.
Unconvinced with his findings, Lacson said he reported to consulting private firms who bought their own ambulance units and fitted them with the standard automated external defibrillator equipment but still came up with the total cost of P1.5 million. INQ
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