Lacson flags ‘overpriced’ items for DOH-bought ambulances; Duque vows probe
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday flagged the purchase of equipment like mobile phones and dashboard cameras for ambulances by the Department of Health, which he said were overpriced by 70-percent.
During the DOH’s budget hearing, Lacson bared details of the “overpriced” equipment for ambulances in Region 4A and reminded the agency to spend public funds more judiciously.
Among the alleged overpriced equipment procured by the DOH includes a set of two mobile phones with SIM cards for ambulances with a bidding price of P30,000.
But Lacson noted that local government units (LGUs) bought the two phones with similar specifications for only a total of P7,998, or 73-percent lower than the DOH-procured set.
“Ang laki ng discrepancy [The discrepancy is huge],” the senator pointed out.
Aside from this, Lacson said the DOH’s bidding price for dashboard cameras is at P15,000 each but the retail price for each of the items is only P4,500, which is a P10,500 difference or a 73-percent price mark-up.
The DOH also procured stretchers at P23,800 each when the items have a retail cost of P21,200 each, according to the senator.
Further, Lacson said the DOH procured AEDs (automated external defibrillators) at P165,000 each but the item retails for just P96,500 each.
“These are the things we want to be explained by the Department para hindi na maulit [We want the DOH to explain these so this will not happen again],” Lacson said.
It was in September when Lacson first claimed that the DOH purchased ambulances that were “overpriced” by P1 million each.
Citing records, Lacson said each ambulance procured by the DOH cost some P2.5 million but one LGU that planned to procure an ambulance with similar specifications found out that it only costs P1.5 million.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Lacson also raised the possibility that the LGUs that purchased similar ambulance units were “shortchanged” by the supplier. Lacson said the DOH required that each ambulance be fitted with 30 pieces of basic life support (BLS) equipment but the delivered units supposedly were fitted with just 21.
“Are you not going to conduct an investigation dun sa supplier because it seems na-shortchange yung LGU kasi kung and naka-specify 30 BLS equipment e 21 lang pala?” he said.
In response, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said he has ordered his staff to look into the procurement of ambulance units and even instructed them to make a price canvass for each equipment with a “brand-to-brand comparison.”
“Ito ho ay pinaumpisahan ko na [I’ve already ordered it]…Rest assured that we will have this investigated kasi nga this is public funds and we don’t want money to be used and not be able to maximize the value, especially that these are scarce resources,” the health chief said.
Lacson offered copies of the documents he has on the canvassed equipment prices to the DOH to aid the agency in its investigation, which Duque said would be much appreciated.
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