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PS-DBM grilled over P5-B testing kits that did not meet required specs

/ 05:46 PM September 17, 2021
PS-DBM grilled over P5-B testing kits that did not meet required specs

 Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan seeks clarification from officials of the Department of Health and the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management as to why they accepted RT-PCR kits from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp which had six-month expiry dates when the DOH required expiry date was from 24 to 36 months.  (Screen grab/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — The Procurement Department-Department Budget and Management (PS-DBM) was questioned on Friday why it purchased RT-PCR kits worth around P5 billion despite failing to meet specified requirements.

According to Senator Francis Pangilinan, inspection reports signed by PS-DBM show that the purchased testing kits only have a six-month shelf life.

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However, the senator added that the required specifications per the testing kits’ shelf life should have been at least 24 to 36 months from the date of delivery.

“Pero ‘yung inspection reports, nakalagay ay ang expiry dates noong mga dineliver ay anim na buwan lang… Bakit doon sa specs ay dapat 24 to 36 months ang shelf life, pero dito sa inspection remarks, six months lang expired na,” Pangilinan said.

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(As per the inspection reports, it is stated that the expiry dates of the delivered kits is only in six months… Why is it that the specifications required in terms of expiry were at 24 to 36 months, yet here in the inspection remarks, the kits are expired in six months?)

“Obviously, hindi sumunod sa specs. Tama ‘yun diba? So bakit tinanggap kung hindi sumunod sa specs? Mind you, hindi ito maliit na pera, P5 billion ‘to,” the senator added.

(Obviously, this did not follow the specifications. Is that right? So why did we accept this if they do not follow the specifications? Mind you; this is not a small amount. This is P5 billion.)

Pangilinan said the testing kits were purchased in April and May last year and delivered in September of the same year.

Former PS-DBM official Mervin Tanquintic, who signed some of the inspection reports, said they also noticed that the testing kits did not meet the specifications and discussed it with the Department of Health (DOH).

“It was determined that kits would be consumed prior to the expiration date,” Tanquintic said.

Pangilinanpointed out that testing kits should be cheaper the closer to their expiration date.

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“Ito ba ay—una overpriced na, pangalawa hindi pa tama ‘yung specs in violation of what the DOH provided as the specifications,” Pangilinan said.

(This is number one, overpriced. Number two, the specifications are not correct and violate what the DOH provided.)

After further grilling, Tanquintic pointed his finger at the health department, saying: “It was acceptable to the DOH inspection at that time.”

Tanquintic likewise admitted that deliveries that did not meet the required specifications must be rejected in other transactions.

“During that time, joint po yan noong dineliver yan, nakita na ‘yung expiration date (we saw the expiration date when it was delivered). It was also inspected with the DOH at that time,” Tanquintic said.

“Mauubos naman daw po yung kits dahil mataas yung requirement for test kits at that time. Prior to expiration, maubos daw po ‘yung kits,” he added.

(They said the kits would be used up because of the high need for testing kits at that time. They said the kits would be used before the expiration.)

Francisco Duque concurred with Tanquintic’s remarks and highlighted the need for testing kits at the time. However, Duque said they were unaware the testing kits would expire in six months.

“Doon po sa inyong katanungan bakit tinanggap kahit hindi siya within the 24 to 36 months, at that time kasi very acute ‘yung need for testing kits, hindi rin naman namin alam sa DOH na halos lahat pala ng testing kits na ‘to talagang six months lang ang kanilang expiry period,” Duque said.

(In your question as to why we accepted it even if it’s not 24 to 36 months, at that time, the need for testing kits was very acute. The DOH did not know that almost all of the testing kits are expired in six months.)

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