No more investigation on ‘overpriced’ PPEs after Duterte defended DOH

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Malacañang said Tuesday that the alleged “overpriced” personal protective equipment (PPEs) purchased by the would no longer be investigated. 

President Rodrigo earlier said he was the one who ordered Health Secretary Duque III to buy PPEs for health workers regardless of the price. 

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“Naging malinaw naman at nagbigay din ng opinyon ang mga pribadong mga doktor na talagang wala pong irregularity, walang overpriced kasi set po ‘yan,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised Palace briefing.

(It became clear and other private doctors also gave their opinion that there is no irregularity. There was no overpriced because it is a set.)

“Dalawang PPE nga po kasama diyan, kasama pa yung goggles, kasama pa yung sa paa. So wala pong kwestiyon sa PPE,” he added.

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(It includes two PPEs, goggles, and set for the feet. So there is no question on the PPE.)

Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao presented a complete set of PPE procured by the government during the meeting in Malacañang. He explained the PPEs meet local and international quality standards. 

Senator Grace Poe revealed earlier the 1 million sets of PPEs purchased by DOH were “overpriced” by as much as P1.4 billion. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, however, denied Poe’s allegations.

Also read: Philhealth defends ‘overpriced’ COVID-19 test kit package

Duterte orders investigation on overpriced test kits, extraction machines

The President tasked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate a couple who allegedly offered to sell overpriced medical equipment to the government.

“Ang pinapaimbestigahan po ‘yung mga extraction machines at mga test kits dahil karamihan po dito lalong lalo na yung test kits galing lang po sa isang kumpanya sa Tsina at iba-iba lang po ang presyo depende kung sino nagbenta. So yun po ang pinaimbestigahan ni Presidente,” Roque said.

(What is being investigated are the extraction machines and test kits because many of them, especially the test kits, came from a company in China, and prices vary depending on who the seller is. So that is what the President wants to be investigated.)

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier revealed the anomalous purchase also included polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests swabbing system.

“Initial figures that we obtained indicate grossly overpriced government-purchased health products like nucleic acid extractor and swabbing system for PCR-based tests, as well as for PPE,” Lacson told the Inquirer.

“The difference runs to hundreds of millions of pesos, if not billions [of pesos] in public funds—if we consider the volume—compared to those bought by private foundations and organizations,” he said.

Lacson said DOH bought each swabbing unit for $32, which could be purchased for only $12 at cost from China. 

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