The chief implementer of the government’s coronavirus response on Wednesday threatened to take legal action against Rappler and Philippine Daily Inquirer over their “malicious” articles on the procurement of P20 billion worth of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. scored the two media outlets for quoting him as saying that the P20 billion is only for three million PPE sets when the real figure was 11 million.
“I am disappointed because the above-mentioned articles they published are malicious and an inaccurate portrayal of my original statement,” Galvez said in a statement.
“I would like to call on Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer to review the transcript… In fact, I am planning to take legal action against these media outlets if these issues are not clarified,” he added.
An article by state-run Philippine Information Agency also cited Galvez in saying that three million PPE sets worth P20 billion were being procured by the government.
Galvez explained that the three million PPEs he was referring to in the May 9 interview only form the first tranche that is being stockpiled for June to August.
He also clarified that each complete PPE set costs around P1,818, contrary to the Inquirer’s editorial stating that it was worth P6,667 each.
Senator Grace Poe earlier questioned why the PPE sets procured by the Department of Health cost P1,800 each when the Office of the Vice President was able to procure PPEs for only P400 to P1,000.
The DOH has since explained that not all groups buy the same kind of PPEs, stressing that the ones they procured were complete sets that included eight components.
“We would like to assure the Filipino people that the purchase of these PPEs and medical supplies had undergone a very rigid procurement process with the assurance that we will provide the highest medical standard,” Galvez said.
In a statement, Rappler said that the quote was based on a transcript provided by the state-run Philippine Information Agency and that it has since corrected its story.
“In the original version of this story, published on May 9, 2020, we used the quote: “The procurement for another three million PPE sets worth P20 billion is ongoing and this will cover June to August. We are stockpiling on PPE sets because this COVID-19 might last until 2021.”
This was based on the rough transcript and notes from the Philippine Information Agency Distribution Group channel on the same day,” Rappler said.
“We have corrected the article to reflect that P20 billion is for 11 million PPE sets, based on the statement issued by General Galvez on May 13 (dated May 14),” Rappler added.
In another statement, Rappler apologized for misquoting Galvez but clarified that it was unintentional.
“Rappler has corrected details in a story it published on May 9, where National Action Plan on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. was misquoted. The PIA website published the same quote on May 12, but has since taken down the article,” Rappler said.
“We apologize for what happened, and wish to assure General Galvez of good faith in our coverage of any issue and person. Responsible reporting, including acknowledging errors or lapses, continues to be a guiding principle in our daily coverage,” Rappler added.
Sought for comment, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said it will issue a statement on the matter on Friday, May 15. —LDF, GMA News