SENATOR Ana Theresia Hontiveros on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) must explain its decision to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) from Chinese companies despite the availability of cheaper local products.
Hontiveros said DBM signed 11 PPE supply contracts in April and May 2020.
"You want evidence? Here are 11 pieces. DBM should plainly explain these contracts. Huwag nilang linlangin ang taumbayan gamit ang pagpapa-ikot ng maling impormasyon. What we need is clarity," the senator said in a message to reporters Tuesday.
She earlier claimed that the government may have lost at least P1 billion after the DBM allegedly bought overpriced PPE from Chinese companies.
Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor had dismissed Hontiveros’ claim, saying that she is “trying to shame the Duterte administration to keep the opposition’s shortcomings in flagging anomalous transactions during the term of former President Noynoy Aquino.”
Hontiveros said Defensor should initiate an investigation into the transactions, which amounted to P9.198 billion.
“As senator during the current administration, I am simply exercising our congressional oversight. May nakita kaming mali, kaya kinukwestiyon," Hontiveros said.
Based on the data provided by Hontiveros, DBM signed four contracts with companies the produce locally made PPE for only P1,700 per set. This was the lowest price offered among the suppliers.
The DBM procured 30,000 units of PPE from local company Hafid N' Erasmus Corporation for P51 million.
The agency also purchased 50,000 units from Nikka Trading for P99.01 million.
Filipino company Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation provided two million PPE sets for P3.82 billion while Warmus Trading was able to provide 20,000 units for P37.96 million.
Hontiveros, however, noted that the DBM also signed contracts with seven Chinese companies.
Chinese company Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group provided 250,000 units of PPE for P446.4 million while Wen Hua Development Industrial Co. Ltd. supplied 42,000 units for P74.26 million and Chushen Company Ltd. provided 588,000 sets for P1.039 billion.
The Pacific Field (Hong Kong) Ltd sold 28,000 units for P53.2 million, Xuzhou Const. Machinery Group Import and Export Co. Ltd. sold one million sets for P1.898 billion and Wen Hua again sold 800,000 for P1.373 billion.
Another Chinese firm, Shanghai Puheng Medical Equipment Co. Ltd., sold 200,000 units for P343.392 million.
"Huwag din sabihin ng DBM na walang kakayanan nung umpisa ng pandemya ang lokal na mga kumpanya. As early as February 6, binalita na na ang Bataan-based firm called Medtex ay kayang gumawa ng two million face masks monthly,” Hontiveros said.
“At meron din silang sister company under the Medtec Group of Companies na nagproproduce ng PPEs. Bakit hindi sa mga katulad nila nag-negotiate ang DBM? Bakit inuna ang foreign companies?" She asked.
She also called for a fast audit of the government’s expenses for its Covid-19 response.
"We have so many questions for the DBM, and again, we do need answers to better inform our budget deliberations in the Senate. Dapat na rin maumpisahan na ang audit ng Covid-19 funds hindi lang para sa kaduda-dudang mga PPEs na ito, pati narin sa lahat na ginastos ng gobyerno," Hontiveros said.
On September 17, Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao defended DBM’s contracts with foreign companies, saying there was “no local supplier that could comply with the Department of Health’s (DOH) required eight-piece PPE set budgeted at P2,000 per set.”
A complete PPE for medical frontliners includes face masks, gloves, head and shoe covers, goggles, and surgical gown. (SunStar Philippines)