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Budget exec claims previous admin bought PPEs double current prices

Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao on Monday defended the Duterte government's purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), pointing out that the previous administration acquired PPEs at double the current prices.

Based on documents of the Procurement Service (PS) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released by Lao, the government, through the Department of Health (DOH), awarded two supply contracts cumulatively worth P23.24 million to medical equipment supplier Rebmann Inc.

The documents indicated that the first contract was dated September 28, 2015, covering 2,500 units of eight-piece PPE sets at P3,500 per unit for a total value of P8.75 million. The second contract was dated June 23, 2016, covering 3,700 eight-piece PPE sets at P3,700 per unit bringing the total to P14.49 million.

The PPE-set specifications included goggles, gloves, plastic shoe covers, coveralls, surgical gowns, N95 face masks, surgical masks, and head caps.

In comparison, Lao said the current government procured PPEs at an acquisition cost of P1,400 to P1,500 per set, despite the increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What puzzles me is that we are being insinuated to have caused the loss of P1 billion government money and being subjected to investigation, whereas the procurements made during the previous administration were double the cost, [but] is not being questioned and subjected to investigation," Lao said in a statement.

"Their procurement cost is more than double the procurement cost made by PS-DBM in 2020," he said.

This comes after Senator Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel last week said the Philippines lost around P1 billion when the PS-DBM purchased China-made PPEs that were overpriced.

The senator 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 only 30,000 pieces were bought from this firm.

Hontiveros also alleged that almost three million PPE sets 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.

The firms denied the allegation of irregularities, as they attested that the government's purchase of medical supplies was above board.

The PS-DBM earlier denied overpricing allegations, as it claimed that the government instead saved P800 million from the purchase of China-made PPEs. — DVM, GMA News