As the Department of Health (DOH) faces an investigation over its coronavirus response, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday claimed that the department ordered personal protective equipment (PPEs) as early as February.
“‘Yung pagbili po ng mga PPE, at akala po ng mga ibang grupo ay napakahuli po ang ating pagbili ng PPE, pero sa totoo lang po as early as February naglagay na po tayo ng procurement order,” he told President Rodrigo Duterte in a briefing televised late at night.
Duque said the DOH placed the order with the Philippine International Trading Corporation, an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry.
He said that the delivery of the PPEs was delayed to March and April due to global lack of supply.
“Talagang namroblema lang po tayo sa supply kasi nga po at that time marami na nga pong ibang bansa na nauna po sa’tin dahil nauna rin po silang magkaroon ng kaso ng COVID-19,” Duque explained.
The DOH first announced that it purchased one million PPE sets worth P1.8 billion on March 30.
The first batch of PPEs was distributed to hospitals on April 1.
Senator Grace Poe earlier questioned the hefty price tag of the PPE procurement, pointing out that the market value of such gear ranged only from P400 to P1,000.
Duterte defended Duque amid the controversy surrounding the DOH’s allegedly “overpriced” procurement of medical supplies and equipment.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., who likewise vouched for Duque’s integrity, previously said that cheaper PPE sets would give healthcare workers a false sense of security in the workplace.
The DOH also explained that the PPEs it bought were complete sets, stressing that not all protective gear are equal. — BM, GMA News