The Senate has ended the debate on the bill to create the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos.
But before that, the allegedly questionable purchase by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of hygiene kits worth P1.2 million was discussed.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked Senator Joel Villanueva, who is defending the bill if it is true that OWWA bought hygiene kits, sanitary napkins, and thermal scanners from a construction and trading company.
Villanueva replied that OWWA has clarified this and purchased the hygiene kits from MRCJP Construction and Trading registered with the Department of Trade and Industry and the local government of Pasay City.
The total purchase, he said, is P986,000 for hygiene kits, including shampoo, toothbrush, resealable bag, and more.
The suggested retail price is P188, but OWWA got it for P160.
The sanitary napkin is also lower than the SRP, which plays at P2.50 to P10.00 depending on the type of napkin.
OWWA’s purchase of hygiene kits again discussed in Senate
Drilon reminded that OWWA must be careful in using the funds.
“Hindi po ito pera ng pamahalaan, pera po ito ng ating manggagawa sa ibayong dagat at kailangan na maingat tayo sa pagagastos nito dahil kapag nagkaroon ng duda sa uri ng paggastos baka hindi na pumayag na mag contribute ang ating mga manggagawa sa ibayong dagat dito sa OWWA fund,” he said.
Villanueva, on the other hand, defended that the hygiene kits were not purchased by OWWA funds. Instead, he said P 1.2 million came from the general appropriations fund.
“We need to make sure that every single peso that we are spending, especially for our OFW, our modern-day hero, should be protected,” said Villanueva.
In August, the Commission on Audit (COA) criticized the OWWA for buying hygiene products worth P1.269 million from a construction store and trading company.
In the COA’s audit report, it was said that an OWWA deputy administrator’s purchase of hygiene kits, sanitary napkins, and thermal scanners at unknown drugstores or supermarkets was questionable.
“Out of the P2,011,441.90 covered by LR No. FM-OWWA 07-10.4, the propriety and regularity of the expenditures charged to the CA (cash advance) of the Deputy Administrator totaling P1,269,920 is doubtful due to the awarding of the procurement transactions not to reputable drugstores and supermarkets,” the report said.