The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) claimed it actually saved hundreds of millions of pesos when it purchased China-made personal protective equipment (PPEs) in April and May, in response to Senator Risa Hontiveros' allegation that it lost P1 billion in the transaction.
Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, who heads the PS-DBM, earlier said that the PPE sets purchased from Chinese manufacturers were the cheapest options during the first five months of COVID-19 pandemic response.
Hontiveros had alleged that the government incurred about P1 billion in losses as PPE sets from China cost around P1,700 to P2,000 while the price estimates of the Philippine General Hospital ranges only from P1,200 to P1,500.
To clarify, the PS-DBM issued a statement noting that “in fact, generated about Eight Hundred Million Pesos (PHP 800,000,000.00) in savings by dealing directly with manufacturers and accredited distributors.”
It explained that seven of the contracts for PPE sets were awarded to China-based companies from April to May this year by the PS-DBM “because there were no local suppliers that could comply with the DOH required eight-piece PPE set budgeted at P2,000 per set.”
An eight-piece set consists of gloves, medical grade cover-all, N95 face mask, head cover, shoe cover, goggles, surgical mask, and surgical gown.
“As per data of PS-DBM, PhilPharma, the sole local company offeror of the eight-piece PPE set during the initial procurement, submitted an offer that was declared non-compliant to the DOH requirements,” the agency said.
“The reasons being: price offer was P2,873.00, 30.39% higher than the allocated budget; and PhilPharma’s on-hand stocks were inadequate, therefore unable to deliver on time,” the PS-DBM said.
The Budget department’s procurement service also explained that the price offers it received from the China-based suppliers averaged at P1,773.51, 38.27% lower than the offer of PhilPharma, and 11.32% lower than the allowable budget.
“It is for this reason that the PS-DBM deemed it only proper and beneficial for the Philippine government to award the urgently-needed PPEs to foreign suppliers,” it said.
The PS-DBM said it also sent letters dated September 16, 2020 addressed to the office of Hontiveros and to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) requesting them to name local suppliers who supposedly could offer an eight-piece PPE set last April 1 to May 15, 2020, at a price lower than P1,772.58 — the lowest price procured by the agency during that specific period.
“As of date no response was received from the Office of Senator Hontiveros and PGH. It should be supported with full confirmation that those companies are compliant to the required certificates and licenses and are responsive to the delivery schedule as specified by the DOH,” the PS-DBM said.
“Furthermore for the purpose of fact checking, the Office of the Senator is requested to produce the suppliers’ invoice, official receipts, and other pertinent documentations of PGH supporting their claim that the same PPE set was estimated to be at P1,500.00 per set as of March to May 2020, just as Sen. Hontiveros stated,” it said.
The PS-DBM said the savings generated can now be used for additional PPEs and other COVID-19 response items that the DOH needs to bolster the government’s fight against the pandemic. — BM, GMA News