“Maaring mas mahigit pa sa isang bilyon ang nakuha sa kaban ng bayan. Higit sa isang bilyon na dapat ginamit nalang para sa ayuda, sa pagtaas ng sahod, at napakarami pang iba.”
This was the remark of Senator Risa Hontiveros after the Department of Budget and Management – Procurement Services’ (PS- DBM) claimed that the government did not lose P1-billion due to overpriced personal protective equipment (PPE) sets, majority of which were procured from Chinese companies.
“The 1 billion-peso loss is even a conservative estimate,” Hontiveros said.
She revealed that the DBM’s Quarter 2 report, from April to May, states:
“The Department of Health (DOH) has ordered another 5.1 million PPE sets amounting to around P10.2 billion. The procurement of which is ongoing.”
“This means the DBM and DOH were procuring PPE sets for P2,000 each. However, also in May, the Palace reported that during their Inter-Agency Task Force meeting, the government procured PPE sets worth P1,100 each. There’s a huge discrepancy there. Where is the extra P900 going? That’s around P4 billion worth of PPE sets that is unaccounted for. Mukhang may nagsasayang ng pera ng mamamayan. Mukhang may kumikita talaga,” she said.
“Dagdag pa dito, hindi parin pinagawa sa mga local manufacturers ang PPEs. I know there is the Confederation of Philippine Manufactureres of PPE (CPMP), a group of Pinoy companies, and they were ready to respond to the needs of the pandemic and yet government continued to import PPEs,” Hontiveros added.
CPMP, in an interview, has stated that it is able to support the government’s PPE needs, as it has the capacity to make 3 million medical-grade coveralls and isolation gowns monthly but none have been procured by DOH.
“Kayang kaya ng Pilipino tumugon sa pangangailangan ng kapwa Pilipino. DBM and DOH should immediately engage with and prioritize our local manufacturers. Kung magagawa ito, mas maraming trabaho din ang mapupunta sa Pilipino,” Hontiveros said.
The senator also reiterated her proposed Senate Resolution No. 479 to investigate the allocation of COVID-19 funds under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act No. 11469).
“We need this audit to inform our budget deliberations in the Senate. I will also have the agencies submit documents related to the aforementioned questionable procurements for our budget hearings. The public can be assured that we will hold them to account,” Hontiveros concluded.