The Philippines lost around P1 billion when the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM) purchased China-made personal protective equipment (PPE) sets that were overpriced, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday.
These allegedly overpriced five million PPE sets were procured from April to May 2020, the opposition senator said in a statement.
"Out of the 11 contracts of the PPE sets, seven were with China-based companies. Bakit inuna ang mga dayuhang kontraktor bago ang mga Pilipinong kumpanya? To make matters worse, in these 11 procurements we analyzed, it appears that the PPE prices were overpriced by at least P200 per unit or P1 billion in total," Hontiveros said.
Citing estimates from the Philippine General Hospital, she said each PPE set should cost only P1,200 to P1,500.
The PPE sets procured by PS-DBM during the said period, meanwhile, cost around P1,700 to P2,000, according to the senator.
"Isang bilyon ang nawala sa kaban ng bayan. This is P1 billion that could have gone to more PPEs... The P1 billion could have also been allocated to increase the salaries of our health workers," Hontiveros said.
The cheapest PPE sets procured by the PS-DBM, priced at P1,700 each, were from Philippine-based company Hafid N’ Erasmus Corporation, but Hontiveros pointed out that only 30,000 pieces were bought from this firm.
She stressed that almost three million PPE sets, on the other hand, were outsourced at higher prices from Chinese companies including Xuzhou Const. Machinery Group; Wen Hua Dev’t Industrial Co., Ltd.; Chushen Company Ltd.; Pacific Field (Hong Kong) Ltd.; and Shanghai Puheng Medical Equipment Co. Ltd.
"DBM should explain these suspicious transactions. The Department of Health (DOH) should also have exercised its mandate to inspect these procurements, especially since this is a vital aspect of our overall COVID-19 response," Hontiveros said.
She added that the two agencies must be able to give a good justification why Chinese firms were apparently given priority over local manufacturers of PPEs.
Earlier this week, the DBM said it canceled a P727-million contract with Ferjan Health Link Philippines, Inc. over the delayed delivery of 500,000 PPEs.
It also claimed that the Philippine government saved around P2 billion from its purchase of essential medical supplies needed by the DOH for COVID-19 response.
GMA News Online has sought comment from the DBM and DOH regarding Hontiveros' claim. — BM, GMA News